October 16-22, 2016 is National Veterinary Technician Week and as the lead technician at Westway Animal Clinic I am very excited to be writing the October blog. Every year at this time, our team at Westway likes to give a special acknowledgement and thank you to our wonderful technicians for everything that they do. I have been in the veterinary field for many years and, in that time, I’ve come to realize that a lot of people still don’t fully understand what a veterinary technician actually is and what we do. We are anesthesiologists, x-ray technicians, pharmacists, dental hygienists, coroners, janitors and so much more on a daily basis. We are also a shoulder to cry on, a cuddle buddy, a vet’s right hand and often even a chew toy. We save lives and rescue pets, often taking them home with us. We like to call it “fostering,” but they just kind of stick around for the next 10-15 years! I have two silly cats sleeping on my lap as I write this, both rescues that stole my heart and purred themselves into my life. Veterinary technicians are a special kind of people: we have huge hearts, iron stomachs, endless bladders, restless minds and limitless hope. Most of us could never imagine doing anything else.
So how does one become a veterinary technician? We go to college for 2-3 years, depending on the program. It’s a grueling, fast paced process filled with so much knowledge we sometimes feel like we cannot physically absorb any more information. Those years go by very quickly, a mix of incredible fun and ultimate stress. We then become a member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT), our association and governing body, in charge of maintaining and regulating the professional standards of veterinary technicians. Most of us go on to write the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE) which is a standardized exam that covers the entire scope of our education, from dogs and cats, to cows and sheep to rabbits and ferrets to parrots and snakes! The exam covers rules and regulations, drugs and drug calculations, anatomy (of everybody!) and nutrition… just to name a few. Passing this exam (along with a few other processes like taking a Professionalism and Ethics course) gives us the credentials to be a “Registered Veterinary Technician” (RVT). After that we have to keep up with our knowledge, regularly participating in continuing education programs in order to maintain our Registered status. Some technicians have a passion for a certain area of our field such as dentistry, critical care or anesthesia, and they are able to further specialize and get accredited in these fields if they wish. I personally have a passion for dentistry and hope to become specialized in the future, it’s a lot of work but I am up for the challenge!
I hope I was able to enlighten you on our field and what it is our veterinary technicians do every day. Please feel free to ask us questions, we are proud of what we do and love to educate the public about it. Also join our team in thanking our amazing technicians for their dedication and commitment, not only this week but throughout the year. While hiring veterinary technicians isn’t mandatory in Ontario, we couldn’t be the practice we are without having these qualified and compassionate professionals on our team!
Krisztina Kovacs, RVT