- They have jobs that involve just about every facet of veterinary care in a clinic.
- They work closely with veterinarians and perform care services for animal patients, much like registered nurses.
- They are radiology technicians, anesthetists, dental hygienists, and more.
They are registered veterinary technicians (RVTs), also known as veterinary nurses or vet techs.
These qualified and trained medical professionals play an integral role in your pet’s care, so we spoke with veteran RVT Lindsay Lewis to learn more. She is the hospital manager at emergency vet hospital TrueCare for Pets and has over 18 years of practice experience working in general practice, emergency critical care, and specialty hospitals.
Here are just a few ways veterinary technicians improve your pet’s care.
They are triage nurses
The word “triage” is a medical term that comes from the French word for “to sort.” In emergency practices, like the one that Lewis works at, triaging is important because it organizes patients according to the severity of their condition and allows patients with more life-threatening conditions to be treated first.
Triage information gathering can happen in multiple stages of patient care, from the initial communication with the owner over the phone or face to face, to the assessment of the patient on arrival.
Lewis said that owners can help their pet get needed care in a timely way by communicating frankly with veterinary technicians. While veterinary technicians cannot diagnose or treat your pet, they can determine how urgent your pet’s case is in relation to other patients and what needs to be done.
They help reduce medication errors
Veterinary medications can look alike or sound alike. Lewis said medication errors can often be prevented if pet owners inform veterinary technicians about their pet’s condition.
“Sometimes pet owners have this idea of ‘I’m only going to talk to the doctor, not you.’ But I would say it’s important to talk to your veterinary technician because they can help provide another layer of check,” said Lewis.
She gave the example of “Convenia” and “Cerenia,” two very different medications that can look alike on written orders.
Convenia is an antibiotic used to treat canine and feline bacterial skin infections; Cerenia is an antiemetic used to treat vomiting and motion sickness in dogs and cats.
“We always try to be careful. But say the veterinarian has very bad handwriting and it’s hard to tell if it’s Convenia or Cerenia, knowing your pet’s condition can help us get you the right medication,” she explained.
They can help humans
Veterinary technicians are loving caregivers who have a true passion for animal welfare and wellness. And while they are animal nurses first, they can also help pet owners.
One area that veterinary technicians can help with is end-of-life discussions with pet owners who are anticipating or have already experienced the loss of their pet.
Lewis said while veterinary technicians cannot tell pet owners what treatment decisions to make, they can help provide the information you need to make those decisions.
Do you have a better understanding of veterinary technicians? Remember these wonderful, hardworking, and well-trained individuals play an integral role in your pet’s care. So, the next time you are at a clinic, be sure to thank the veterinary technicians. Even better, write a review.
Lewis said a positive review on Yelp or Google Review that mentions the name of the veterinary technician who helped you makes a big difference. "It’s really nice to read that and feel like you’re being acknowledged.”