Veterinary Technicians and Technologists

Pet owners want the best medical treatment for their pets. To better serve their clients, veterinarians hire veterinary technicians and technologists, which would be considered the equivalent of a nurse, to assist them with basic treatment and care. Technicians and technologists have similar duties, but differences exist at different clinics and education requirements vary. Most veterinary professionals assisting veterinarians are known as technicians.

Veterinarians supervise veterinary technicians and technologists. They spend a lot of their time conducting diagnostic tests and treating medical problems in animals. Common laboratory tests include dental prophylaxis, blood tests, urinalysis, and other tests ordered by a veterinary. Even though most of their work is conducted in a laboratory, certain job duties are performed in other environments. These duties can include processing x rays, keeping records, and providing personalized care for animals. Certain technicians with extensive experience often meet with clients to discuss their pets' medical problems and tutor newly hired technicians. Those specializing in small animal treatment usually treat dogs, cats, and other small animals including pigs, birds, and monkeys. It is not common for veterinary technologists to care for smaller animals and bigger ones such as cattle and horses.

Technologists not only work in veterinary clinics, they work at research facilities, where they prepare specimens for analysis and keep records regarding symptoms, treatments, and animals reactions to treatment. Certain technologists and technicians assist veterinarians during surgery and sterilize surgical equipment. Those at research laboratories are usually supervised by veterinarians. Many veterinary technologists administer vaccinations and other medications to euthanize permanently injured or sick animals.

Although veterinary professionals usually work with sick animals, many conduct research to improve the health of people, which can include cloning and gene therapy research. Many eventually pursue careers researching biomedical issues, working for the army, working for pharmaceutical companies, and managing livestock companies.

Work environment. Working as a veterinarian technologist or technician is a great career for people who enjoy being around animals, but working with animals can be hazardous and not enjoyable. Veterinary technicians frequently are required to clean animal kennels and hold animals down while veterinarians treat animals, and many animals can react violently in these situations. Veterinarian professionals must be careful during insecticide or germicide medical treatments. Since many animals are brought to veterinarian clinics, it is often a noisy working environment.

Euthanizing animals or working with ones that have been abused can cause mental stress. Technologists and technicians working for animal protection agencies often have to deal with members of the public who are angry about animal neglect. While they conduct their work protecting animals, they must act professionally and composed.

In certain animal clinics, research centers, and animal kennels, a veterinary technician or technologist can be on call during any hour of the day, requiring many to work nights. The majority of these professionals work 40 hour weeks, while some work more than 50 hours.

Career Training and Education

Entry-level technician positions can be obtained with an associate's degree in veterinary technology, which can be obtained from vocational and community colleges. Entry-level technologist positions are usually filled by individuals holding bachelor's degrees in veterinary technology. Many colleges and universities offer these degrees.

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