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VETERINARY TECHNICIAN WEEK
My original intention for this blog post was to follow a composite character through a day as a veterinary technician at one of our practices to give pet owners an idea of how valuable these individuals are to our patients. The truth is that we have 5 Licensed Veterinary Technicians (LVT) in our three locations and their jobs are so complex and varied, I didn't think I could cover it that way in a single post. You wouldn't believe what these dedicated professionals do in a single shift at work. So, I changed my mind and want to just give some insight into what these veterinary professionals do.
First of all, not everyone you see working with a veterinarian is a "tech". In New York this is a licensed professional, governed by the State Education Department, requiring a degree from an accredited program. Most of our techs have associates degrees from the program at Suffolk Community College, but others will go for a 4 year bachelor degree. In either case, after graduation, candidates must sit for and pass a state licensing examination before they can work as an LVT. You can't learn on the job and progress from a kid in the kennel to a technician with on the job training, and that is a good thing because veterinary medicine has become very complex. In fact, graduation is not the end of the education process as a LVT is required to attend continuing education on a regular basis. Not only are they perpetual students, the techs at our practices are teachers as well. We accept interns from several local programs for practicum rotations and our LVTs are the primary instructors for these individuals.
Think of a LVT as a cross between a nurse, a nurse practitioner, and a Physician's assistant, all rolled up into one animal care professional. We try to utilize our techs to the fullest extent allowed by their license as it frees the rest of the medical staff. They are essentially allowed to do most everything up to diagnosis and treatment plan formulation and we could not run our hospitals without them.
In the office they work with our assistants to take medical histories prior to the doctor doing the examination. They are allowed to give vaccines, draw up medications, prepare cytology specimens, and run our in house lab machines to generate reports for you while you wait.
Our radiographic studies are ordered by the doctor, but just as a radiation technician takes your x rays our technicians take ours and load them into our computer system for the doctors to read. If they need to be reviewed by a radiologist, they prepare the records and send the images via e mail to the specialist.
Just as the hygienist cleans our teeth, our technicians do the initial cleaning or your pet's teeth during a dental procedure. Once the teeth are clean, they will take a series of digital dental x-rays and the doctor will review them, do a complete oral examination and formulate a treatment plan. All surgery and extractions are done by the veterinary staff, just as oral surgery is done by your dentist.
For our surgery cases, they draw and run pre op bloods, place IV catheters, calculate anesthetic doses and induce, maintain, and monitor anesthesia, similar to a nurse anesthetist at the human hospitals. They prepare the patient for surgery, clipping and scrubbing the surgical site, and monitor them in recovery post op.
Our techs run our in house lab from start to finish. They take blood and urine samples, prepare them, and run them on our state of the art laboratory machines. For tests that we don't run in house, they prepare the samples for shipment and when the results come back, they prepare them for review by a doctor.
In our practices, the LVT helps to maintain our medical record system, prepare estimates for procedures, and discharges patients to their owners, reviewing home care instructions.
Our techs have initiated special nutrition programs to optimize the health or our patients. Additional extra training lets them aid our overweight patients with weight loss programs tailored for each individual pet. We have a growing physical therapy program for orthopedic rehabilitation and the treatment of chronic degenerative diseases.
This is just a sampling of what our technician team does on a daily basis. I'm sure I left some things out. In fact, there are entire careers in animal care that are open to LVTs. If you know of anything I missed, feel free to comment on our facebook page.