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All About Veterinary Technicians

Posted October 06, 2011

LionThis year a week dedicated to recognizing the commitment veterinary technicians give to the veterinary profession - National Veterinary Technician Week - will take place from October 9 to October 15, 2011. In celebration of National Veterinary Technician Week, it is important to highlight the profession that does so much for the veterinary world.

According to Jean Laird, canine internal medicine and endoscopy technician at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), "The decision to be a veterinary technician is an exceptional career choice that requires skill, dedication, and ongoing desire for education and most importantly, a serious respect and admiration for animals and the clients that consider them family."

Veterinary technicians are trained to assist veterinarians in a variety of professional settings. Therefore, diverse skill sets are essential for a veterinary technician to perform all of the necessary tasks.

"Some of the daily duties performed by a veterinary technician are assisting in surgery, managing anesthesia and sedation, performing a thorough patient assessment, administering fluids and medications, patient management, critical care, urinary, arterial and venous catheterizations, and medical record keeping," Laird said.

"One of the most important aspects of veterinary medicine is client communication," Laird added. "It is of vital importance that a technician can communicate accurately and effectively with clients. Demonstrating empathy and patience is a key part of client communication, as is the necessity of appreciating the human/animal bond."

By law, veterinary technicians cannot diagnose, perform surgery, or prescribe medicine to a patient.

A veterinary technician has the opportunity to advance in his or her field by becoming a registered veterinary technician (RVT). Laird explains that RVTs are technicians that have completed state required experience, state and national testing, and two years of classroom and practical instruction from an accredited university to earn an associate degree in applied sciences.

A RVT is similar to a registered nurse in human medicine. To maintain their certification status, RVTs are required to have a certain number of Continuing Education Units (CEU) each year. To retain a certification in Texas, RVTs are required to complete five CEU hours per year.

After certification, a RVT can continue his or her professional growth and strengthen his or her focus by obtaining an additional professional certification known as Veterinary Technician Specialty (VTS).

"A VTS allows a RVT to gain a higher level of education, skill, and experience by specializing in a specific area of veterinary medicine," Laird said. "Currently, specialties available through VTS are dentistry, anesthesia, internal medicine, emergency and critical care, behavior, zoo, equine, surgery, and clinical practice."

RehabJob opportunities widely vary within venues of veterinary medicine for technicians. According to Laird, some examples include, but are not limited to: neighborhood clinics, emergency clinics, search and rescue, entertainment, shelters, research, specialty referral hospitals, public health, academia, specialty parks, and zoos.

After more than fifteen years of service as a veterinary technician, Laird has had some time to access the pros and cons of the profession.

"Veterinary medicine is an exciting and rewarding profession that awards the opportunity to make a difference in a person and an animal's life," Laird said. "A veterinary technician is a tremendous asset to the ongoing changes and future of veterinary medicine."

"The most difficult part of veterinary medicine is euthanasia," Laird said. "To lose a patient or pet is life-altering and devastating. It is however, a small price to pay for what a tremendous gift and enrichment any pets are to our lives."

The CVM holds special events every year for National Veterinary Technician Week. This year is no different.

"Each year we celebrate National Veterinary Technician Week by providing sponsored breakfast, lunch, and continuing education dinners to our 77 small animal and 30 large animal technicians," Laird explains. "It is an exciting time and the entire hospital staff, senior clinicians, residents, interns, and students join together with the hospital administration to show appreciation to the hardworking, dedicated technicians that are the foundation of the most exceptional veterinary care offered in the world."

As pets continue to become an integral part of the family, the demand for skilled veterinary technicians continues to rise. For more information on becoming a veterinary technician, please visit The CVM has partnered up with Blinn College, in Bryan, Texas, to offer a Vet-Tech program. For more information on this unique program, contact (979) 209-7203 or at

To learn more about the events surrounding National Veterinary Technician Week, please visit



Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at Suggestions for future topics may be directed to

Top Photo: Jean Laird, veterinary technician at the CVM, helps with an endoscopy of a lion.

Bottom Photo: David Sessum, registered veterinary technician and rehabilitation specialist at the CVM, and Abby Rafferty, registered veterinary technician at the CVM, help a patient during rehabilitation exercises.

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