You bring your dog into the vet. Maybe he/she is getting dropped off for a procedure, maybe he/she is sick. Either way you are probably wondering what your favorite little pooch will be doing all day. With this wonder I'm sure comes nerves. As a licensed veterinary technician, I can assure you that the entire veterinary team is working hard to ensure the health and comfort of your pet. But often the role of a veterinary technician isn't as widely understood as that of a veterinarian. That is where I come in! My name is Amanda, and I have been licensed as a technician in California since 2015 and Nevada since 2016. I want to share with you what it means to be a veterinary technician and what the process to becoming licensed entails.
As licensed veterinary technicians, we are able and allowed to do all tasks a veterinarian can do except make a diagnosis, prescribe medications, and perform surgeries. This means while your fur babies are with us, the technicians are placing IV catheters, taking radiographs, assisting in surgery, anesthetizing patients and monitoring anesthesia, hospitalizing sick patients and administering medications, performing dental procedures and taking dental radiographs, drawing blood and running lab work, and giving your pets TLC while you can't be with them. These are just a handful of things that represent what a veterinary technician does daily.
With this responsibility comes a lot of hard work and schooling to get licensed. The veterinary technician program is a 2-year process that will prepare you for the state and national board exams needed to become licensed. I will talk specifically about the program at Truckee Meadows Community College where I attended. Prior to applying to the program, several pre-requisite classes, such as basic math and science, are required as well as either work or shadow hours at a veterinary hospital. I highly recommend working at a hospital during school as it allows you to learn in an academic setting while also applying your learning to a hospital setting. Once accepted into the program, you will start your journey to becoming a veterinary technician. Some classes that are a part of the program are anatomy, nutrition, radiology, nursing care, emergency and critical care, large animal, lab animal, clinical pathology, parasitology, and surgery. Most classes have a lecture as well as a lab portion. At TMCC, your third semester involves lecture as well as clinical rotation, which allows you to shadow at multiple hospitals in the Reno area (including SWVH!) and put your skills to the test. The final 6 weeks of your last semester are spent at an externship of your choosing, the last step before sitting for boards and getting licensed. Once school is over, you will take a national as well as state board exam that needs to be passed to be licensed in that particular state. Although the exams are rigorous, the TMCC program will prepare you with the knowledge and tools needed (along with a few months of extra studying on your own once school is over). When you finally get notice that you have passed and are licensed, you then get to spend your time caring for animals in the hospital! To maintain your license in the years to come, continuing education classes are required to keep you up to date with the ever-evolving technologies and therapies in the veterinary field.
The job of being a licensed technician is a huge privilege and an honor. I get to go to work every day knowing I have a positive impact not only on the lives of pets, but also in the communication with pet parents. If you ever want to learn more about veterinary technicians and what we do at SWVH, or if you are interested in becoming one yourself, our doors (and phones) are always open to answer any questions!