"We can't find any Veterinary Technicians!" "There's a shortage of Veterinary Technicians!" "We can't afford Veterinary Technicians!" INCORRECT PEOPLE!
We're here but you can't hire us and/or retain us if you can't respect us, trust us, and pay us. The latter being a whole other conversation, of course. In order to employ and preserve Veterinary Technicians, you must involve them and design an environment where their medical perspective is recognized. We want to feel valued as the veterinary professionals we were trained to be!
In a vast majority of high volume, highly functioning ED/Specialty practices we are taught to be very observant in every minute detail and nuance of our patients. We must be assertive in reporting our findings to the COD (Clinician On Duty), for our patients' life literally depends upon it! As a team, we discuss the findings and create a treatment plan accordingly... together! It's called collaborative medicine!
There are few and far between Primary Care practices who depend upon their Veterinary Technicians for much more than "just do as I say." This type of mentality holds your practice and our profession back! Some practices will even go so far as to inflict disciplinary action because a Vet Tech "overstepped their bounds." Well Techs I am here to tell you, unless you diagnosed, prognosed, performed surgery, or wrote a prescription, you have NOT overstepped your bounds. It's called critical thinking and doing your job to the fullest extent!
So let's just start with the basics! Here are some easy ways to maximally utilize Veterinary Technicians while DVMs are doing DVM things:
Meanwhile, DVMs are performing DVM things:
Trust in your Veterinary Technicians to do their jobs!
One last thing before I climb down off my soap box... and I am going to say this real loud for those in the back!
"CLIENTS DO NOT COME FIRST, EMPLOYEES COME FIRST. IF YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR EMPLOYEES, THEY WILL TAKE CARE OF THE CLIENTS."
Sir Richard Branson
"IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE TO HIRE SMART PEOPLE AND TELL THEM WHAT TO DO; WE HIRE SMART PEOPLE SO THEY CAN TELL US WHAT TO DO."
tHE ongoing title debate...
I want to be granted the title of a Vet Tech. However, I can’t or won’t attend and graduate from a 2 year accredited program. I can’t or won’t pass the VTNE and state licensure exam. I can’t or won’t make the huge sacrifices it takes to earn such a title. I just want it handed to me!
I have a lifestyle that prohibits me from earning the title. I have financial restraints that prohibit me from earning the title.
Well guess what folks… most of us did! But we did it anyway!
I began my career very young, as a CSR, then eventually became a Vet Assistant. After a couple of years my Vet, who saw potential in me, recommended I go to school. The school in our area was opening soon, but wasn’t going to be accredited by the time of graduation, which meant I wouldn’t be eligible to take the VTNE. My parents paid off the couple of thousand dollars I owed on a car at the time and told me good luck. I applied for every loan available to do this because it meant that much to me. I packed up my entire life, said goodbye to my hometown, and moved to the Upstate of SC… alone.
We borrowed 10s of thousands of dollars to do it. We continued to sacrifice for another 11 years to lift the huge burden of debt off our shoulders. The money wasn’t just for schooling, but to live on. We moved away from our home, family, and friends to do it. We made HUGE sacrifices to get it done! We fell asleep almost every night with the lamp on and school books spread out all around us. If we had a big exam we went to the local Pizza Hut to study together so we wouldn’t fall asleep at home. Bless the servers who didn’t get mad because we couldn’t actually afford to eat anything, only purchase a soda! We had early mornings and late evenings of kennel duty and cleaning the school. We ate more than our fair share of ramen noodles, because that’s all we could afford or had the energy to heat up. We gagged and dry heaved during rectal palpations, up to our shoulders, and passing orogastric tubes on slobbery cows. We had to get used to being around horses, much less performing procedures on 2 ton animals. We cried when all the chickens, after our lessons, went into one huge gas chamber to die. We were very sad when it was time to take the cats and dogs back to the shelter for adoption after we’d spent months taking care of them morning, noon, and night. We missed family events, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, births, deaths, and even some holidays. We got sick in the bathroom prior to sitting for the VTNE. We made sacrifices!
In human medicine, a medical assistant would never be allowed to call themselves a Nurse after just a short time of working in the field. I worked in ECC for 17 years, 13 of which was in a critical care unit at a university. I do NOT do well with exams. So, I did not pass my VTS exam (yes, I got sick then too!). I have more knowledge and experience than the ones who passed just after their minimum 5 years’ experience requirement, so should I just ASSUME the title of a VTS (ECC)? I’m thinking that’s a hard NO! So what gives you the right to steal my title? Why is my title the one up for grabs?
Veterinary Medicine is a career for me, not just a job for a few years before moving on because I got bored, or I got sick and tired of being poor. It takes grit, determination, and a lifetime of sacrifices. I made a commitment years ago to change the lives of animals and damn it, I’m sticking to it! I will never stop working for our title protection, ever. Once we’ve accomplished that it will be time to focus on the delineation of the scope of practice between Vet Techs and Assistants. Fair compensation will be an uphill battle as well. I will never stop working to move our profession forward, not backwards, or at a stalemate. I will never stop working to improve our standard of care for pets and their parents.
P.S. STOP calling us Nurses as it is illegal to do so in the USA!