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MARCH 2013 Best Friends

Life As A Licensed Veterinary Technician

By Jennifer S. Russell, L.V.T., and Ashley Combs, Veterinary Assistant

terial catheters and epidurals. Then there is running lab tests, preparing and reading micro- scope slides, calculating and administering medications and solutions, clipping and cleaning of wounds, and suturing. And there is triaging emergencies, including critical care, acquir- ing histories and performing physical exams, acquiring vital signs, restraining patients, pre- paring and administering vac- cinations, euthanasia and prep- aration of remains, data entry, training assistants, phone con- sultations, grief counseling, be- ing the patient’s advocate, and making sure they are cared for to the best of our abilities. And any janitorial duties

needed. Our job is not only physically demanding, but emotionally and mentally challenging as well.

Did you grow up thinking

that someday you would like to work with animals? If we did a survey of third graders, there would be a large number of lit- tle girls and boys raising their hands. Most of us in the vet- erinary fi eld grew up thinking we wanted to be veterinarians, never realizing the amount of schooling, work, and fi nances it actually takes to be one. They are doctors. They go to school just as long as doctors who treat humans. Just like medi- cal doctors, veterinarians need nurses. That’s where Licensed Veterinary Technicians come in.

In reality, it takes quite a bit more than love and desire to help animals to become a vet- erinary technician. We must acquire an Associate’s degree in Applied Science. This takes a minimum of two years to acquire, if you have all of the pre-requisites completed. We have an interview, get letters

of recommendation, and go through an application process to be accepted to an accredited program. It is strongly recom- mended to have experience working in a veterinarian’s of- fi ce before applying to school. Not only does it look good on your application, but it

is a

great idea to be familiar with the tasks you will be expected to perform. After completing the technician program, we must pass a board examina- tion in the state of Virginia to obtain the title Licensed Vet- erinary Technician. We must also acquire at least six hours of continuing education every year to maintain our license. Some of our tasks, once li- censed, include:


administration and monitor- ing, performing radiographs (X-rays), assisting in surgery, fi lling prescriptions, placing and maintaining intravenous, jugular, and urinary catheters, drawing blood, and placing ar-

It is so hard to see the pain and suffering pets that come into our offi ce sometimes. Knowing that we are trained and educated on how to relieve their suffering gives us a sense of pride that we can help them and make a difference. We all became veterinary technicians for different reasons. There is the tech who has

rescued everything from the time they were young, the tech who became licensed because of a traumatic pet loss in their past, the tech who became li- censed because they wanted to help animals but didn’t want to be a vet, and the tech who became licensed because they were an assistant and decided to further their education. There are many reasons for choosing to become a Licensed Veterinary Technician. The one thing that we all have in com- mon is our need and desire to dedicate our lives to the treat- ment and care of animals.

Jen has worked in the Veteri-

nary fi eld for almost 20 years, and has been an employee with Valley Veterinary Emergency and Refer- ral Center since 2000. Ashley has worked in the veterinary fi eld for

six years, and is currently attend- ing Northern Virginia Community College to acquire her veterinary technician license.


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