Veterinary Technicians

Most pet owners have visited the veterinarian’s office at least once. Although veterinarians play an important role in treating and caring for pets, they are not the only people involved in pet care. Veterinary technicians, the people who provide the technical support for patient care, assist veterinarians with many responsibilities. D’Lisa Whaley, veterinary technician at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explained her responsibilities as a veterinary technician.

“Veterinary technicians have such a wide range of responsibilities such as restraining a patient for a physical exam, checking vital signs, administering medications, obtaining diagnostic samples, monitoring a patient under anesthesia, or assisting a veterinarian during a surgical procedure,” Whaley said.

Technicians are also trained to operate and troubleshoot all of the equipment in a veterinary hospital or clinic, including monitoring equipment, anesthesia machines, and radiology equipment, Whaley said.

Although veterinary technicians can be trained on the job by shadowing a veterinarian, the landscape of the profession is changing. Whaley said many practices are hiring formally educated technicians over those without training or education in veterinary medicine.

“In order to receive a degree in veterinary technology, one must attend and complete an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited technician program,” Whaley explained. “Many of these programs are offered at junior or community colleges. Some programs even offer a ‘2+2’ program in partnership with a four year college so that the student is able to earn a bachelor’s degree in animal science. After completing the veterinary technology program, the student can take a national exam and a state exam to earn the title of licensed or registered veterinary technician.”

Though Whaley said there are many things she loves about being a veterinary technician, her favorite aspects of her job include a challenging and fast-paced work environment, interacting with patients and finding the best treatment options, and obtaining diagnostic samples. Additionally, Whaley enjoys interacting with Texas A&M veterinary students.

“Since I work at a teaching hospital, my situation is pretty unique,” she said. “I enjoy working with our senior veterinary students on the best ways to train future technicians. I also like developing long-term relationships with patients and clients. Snuggling with puppies and kittens is a pretty great part of the job as well.”

Although veterinary technicians help provide care for furry patients and save animal lives, there are challenges veterinary technicians may face, such as comforting an owner about their sick pet.

“One of the most challenging aspects of being a veterinary technician is compassion fatigue,” Whaley said. “Whenever our patients are in pain, we do everything we can to help make them more comfortable. When we lose a patient or comfort an owner as they make the difficult decision to euthanize their beloved pet, we grieve along with the family.”

Despite this challenge, Whaley said, “The great things about this job far outweigh the bad, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.