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National Vet Tech Week


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This has been a really hard time for veterinary professionals. Pet parents are on edge (like all everyone in the U.S., it seems), uneasy about the pet going into the clinic without them, and in some cases -with so many out of work -unable to afford the bill.

Absolutely, veterinarians are dealing with all this but it’s veterinary technicians and nurses who are on the front line. Even using hot dog treats, coaxing a dog from the parking lot into the front door may be like tug-of-war.

October 11 through 17 is National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America  National Vet Tech Week. And certainly, vet techs and nurses deserve their own week and to be acknowledged for all they do. Even before the pandemic techs and nurses have been the unsung heroes and the backbone of veterinary medicine.

Can You Believe They Do All This?

The term veterinary nurse might better describe what registered or certified technicians do. Technician or technologist makes it sound like they’re computer programmers. Fact is that vet techs actually do more than most human nurses (This not meant as a knock to all that human nurses do).

From monitoring anesthesia during surgery to assisting veterinarians with pet dentals to helping to position a pet for an X-ray to consulting clients on behavior issues ranging from housetraining to encouraging cats to scratch on posts to demonstrating to a pet parent how to give insulin to a diabetic cat to assisting in holding a pet when vaccines are given to caring for hospitalized patients to assisting at end of life and consoling family members after euthanasia…..and the list goes on.

I have no doubt, if it wasn’t for veterinary technicians and nurses – the quality of vet care in the U.S. would be nowhere what it is now.

The job is a tough one. It’s physically demanding, and even more emotionally exhausting.

Still, for all this, the full-time wage is about $23,000 to $43,000, depending the individual’s education and geography (of course New York City pays more than Bismarck, ND). Part time techs and nurses typically make even less.

It’s also true that while some practices overwork their technicians others don’t utilize their expertise – either of those two scenarios combined with the emotional drain and unsatisfactory salary can lead to low job retention.

Studies show that practices excel by hiring qualified registered or certified veterinary technicians, and fully lean on their expertise.

Despite some griping about the cost of veterinary care, if we paid technicians and nurses what they’re truly worth, few could afford pet care.

Thank you Techs

So, for all this how do you thank a tech? You can say “thank you.” You can bake cookies. No matter how you do it, acknowledgement would really be appreciated. If you’re a cat lover, the non-profit Winn Feline Foundation (funding cat health studies for 52 years) offers to salute technicians with a celebration of their work; it’s called the Veterinary Honor Roll. With a $100 donation, the technician or nurse you choose is awarded a plaque which can be displayed at the vet clinic, a letter from the Winn Feline Foundation and the honoree is highlighted on the Winn website. Of course, the money supports cat health and welfare (and is a tax write off). Donate HERE.

No matter how you decide to do it – do find a way to acknowledge a technician or nurse.

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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