Veterinary technicians perform a wide range of different functions day by day. Because each patient and each case is different, the response should be customized according to the patient’s needs. Thus, a vet tech’s work is far from boring. With the daily challenges that they face, they are always on their feet, ready to act when the need arises.
However, here are some basic duties and responsibilities associated with vet techs. No matter where they are from or what their field of specialty is, they are expected to perform the following:
- Client greeting. Vet techs are the front-liners in the veterinary clinic. They are responsible for greeting pet owners and their pets upon arrival. After that, they are tasked to talk to the pet owner and ask relevant questions to understand the needs of the animals brought to their clinic. After which, the vet tech should record the notes on the chart. He or she should also take the vital signs of the animal concerned.
- Render exceptional customer service. A vet tech answers the phone, schedule patient appointments, prepare invoices and follow-up with clients.
- Provide assistance during examination. A vet technician is expected to assist the veterinary doctor during the examination process. Inside the treatment area, the technician can hold the animal, sew wounds, draw blood or hand out surgical instruments depending on what is needed by the doctor.
- Perform tests asked by the doctor. The vet tech will perform the test that was prescribed by the doctor and then record the results on the chart.
- Provide surgical assistance. During surgery, a vet tech is expected to prepare the operating room and make sure that it is suitable for surgery, monitor the vital signs of the animal, hand in and sterilize instruments after the surgical procedure.
- Routinely check on hospitalized animals. Vet techs are required to clean cages, insert catheters when needed, start IV feedings, and change dressings. Proper recording of the condition of the animals should also be done after monitoring.
- Check inventory and supplies. Veterinary technicians are responsible for making sure that the right supplies are always available for the veterinary doctor. He or she should check daily inventory to ensure that nothing important is missing and restock items that are no longer available.
- Educate pet owners. One of the most important contributions of vet techs in the practice of veterinary medicine is their capability to educate pet owners who are almost always scared for their pets. This would include teaching on conditions and diseases and the best way to take good care of their animals. Such teaching should include looking out for signs and symptoms of an illness, administering the right medication and making sure that the animals are eating healthy through the right kinds of food.
- Groom and clean the animals. There are clinics who offer boarding and grooming services. Vet techs who work in such setting are required to bathe, do fur trimming, cut toenails and administer treatment for fleas.
- Provide home care and discharge instructions. Vet technicians provide instructions to pet owners during the time when their pets are discharged from the animal hospital. Proper wound care would be discussed especially if a pet had undergone a surgical procedure.
Furthermore, vet techs are expected to perform functions related to office management and customer service. Under office management, vet techs must be able to:
- Maintain animal records
- Organize billing information
- Prepare medications for the patient who will be going home. These medications should also be properly labeled.
- Make sure that examination rooms are clean
- Bathe, walk and feed animals when needed
- Conduct trainings for new employees
The functions stated are the general duties and responsibilities performed by veterinary technicians. However, most states have their own rules and regulations governing the practice of veterinary technicians. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is the accrediting body that governs such practices and they have provided a document of what a Vet Tech job description is depending on which state the vet tech belongs. The comprehensive list of job descriptions can be found here https://www.avma.org/Advocacy/StateAndLocal/Documents/scope_vet_assistant_duties.pdf.
The job description of a veterinary technician could also differ when it comes to the field of specialty of a particular vet tech. Some functions may be prescribed for a Veterinary Technician Anesthesia Specialist which may not be necessarily required from a Veterinary Behavior Technician. Knowing these differences could help define what one is expected and not expected to do.
Here are some of the things which a vet tech should not perform because they are not licensed to do so:
- Diagnose illness. Vet techs are not allowed to make a diagnosis of a patient’s illness.
- Perform surgery. Veterinary doctors are the ones who are licensed to perform surgery. Vet techs are only there to provide much-needed assistance.
- Prescribe medication. Although they have a background on veterinary pharmacology, Vet techs are not licensed to prescribe medicines to the patients.
- Discharge patients. Vet techs are also not allowed to discharge patients and give them the permission to go home. Only a veterinary doctor can do this.
But despite the varying job descriptions, all veterinary technicians are expected to perform this task: render high quality patient care to the best of their ability. The Vet Tech job description as well as the specific duties and responsibilities are there to act as a gauge as to how well one performs his or her work but quality care remains the top duty and foremost responsibility of each vet tech out there.