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Veterinary Technician: The Unsung Hero of Veterinary Medicine

In my personal comment and subject of my blog post today, I would like to expand a bit on my Pet Chat Radio interview earlier with the lovely certified veterinary technician, Melissa Welton. She exemplified just how invaluable technicians are to a veterinary practice from her own personal experience in teh profession. If you have not yet had the opportunity to hear the interview, I strongly recommend it.

Most veterinarians understand the value of good technicians, most treating them and regarding them with the respect they deserve. Many clients also understand how important certified veterinary technicians are to animal health care, taking the time acknowledge them with verbal “thank you” and often “thank you” cards, but very often, the credit for having saved a life or resolved disease is directed solely at the attending veterinarian. Yet the technicians rarely are affected by this, moving on, and performing their essential tasks with the reward they need: the personal satisfaction of knowing that they work in the field that they love, and that they play a big role day in and day out, in doing their part to better the health of people’s beloved house pets.

To get a better understanding of how important technicians are, just refer to the following small glimpse of what my technicians do for me.

When I come in the morning, all treatments of in-hospital animals have ready been complete by the techs. Hospital runs have been cleaned, the animals walked, fed, vitals have been taken, and the treating technicians have a report for me on each patient.

In addition to this, technicians have admitted, performed presurgical vitals, run all pertinent labwork, and reported to me the findings so I can go ahead with my recommendation for premedication, which they then implement. Prior to surgery, technicians, clip and scrub the patient’s surgical site, induce the patient, place the tracheal tube, start gas anesthesia, then monitor anesthesia throughout the procedure. If the procedure is a dental prophylaxis, they perform the professional cleaning, check for pockets and other intraoral lesions, then alert me to assess whether further dental work needs to be done. For procedures that require another set of hands, technicians scrub in to assist me.

During appointments, technicians perform all labwork by my order, freeing me up to keep up with my paper work and see more patients. During down time, technicians sift through all faxed labwork, place them in the proper medical files, then put them in my box for me to interpret and call the clients. They also process and examine all stool samples for parasites, alert me about positive results, then dispense the necessary medication and call the client with a diagnosis and to alert that medication is waiting for the pet to be picked up. My most senior technician spends her down time logging the controlled drugs, keeping the hospital OSHA compliant, and ordering inventory.

At the end of the day, technicians discharge the patient, dispense medications, and go over discharge instructions with the client.

I am sure there is plenty more that they do that is escaping me at this very moment, but I think the point is clear how important technicians are to a hospital. While veterinarians are the nucleus of the practice that bear the primary patient responsibility, we could not do what we do, as well as we do, without our dedicated and hard working veterinary technicians.

Roger Welton, DVM
Founder, Web-DVM

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