There are three words that can distinguish a Registered Veterinary Technician from a veterinarian:
The veterinarian must diagnose the patient, prescribe the medication, and/or perform surgery. Even in these three scenarios, a vet tech is the veterinarian’s assistant. Otherwise, an RVT must contain much of the same knowledge a vet does. The doctor will diagnose the patient and prescribe medications, and the technician will carry out the doctor’s desired treatment(s). This is an extremely important facet in itself, as the technicians are available to assist the doctor’s and take care of them as well as the patients.
I never knew how extensive the job description of a veterinary technician was until I began working at Sierra. I had heard and seen commercials on the radio and TV about the rewarding nature of a career as an RVT (Registered Veterinary Technician). Rewarding is an understatement for the care and knowledge RVT’s display and the return that is given. RVT’s are also important to be available in assisting the doctors and taking care of them as well as the patients.
We have an RVT on staff at all times. One begins early in the morning. Coming in around 6:30 a.m. and prepping for the day. The opening RVT is in charge of surgery and dental admits. The RVT will go over the procedure being done, what to expect, answer any questions or concerns the client may have, and then will be the liaison while the patient is in the clinic. After most surgeries and dentals, the RVT will also text a picture of the patient in recovery, letting the owner know their furry friend is safe and comfortable!
In the case of dentals, the scaling, polishing, and simple extractions are actually performed by our RVT’s. Any oral surgeries or complex extractions are done by the overseeing veterinarian. The RVT that admits a patient for surgery stays with the pet during the entire process: monitoring the patient, prepping for surgery, doing any necessary shaving, sedating, IV fluids, etc. While the surgery is being performed, that same RVT is the one watching over the patient, watching over the heart rate and blood pressure machines – a pet anesthesiologist, if you will.
While all these procedures and surgeries are happening, another RVT is our Treatment Coordinator. This position requires amazing patience, focus, and organization. While being Treatment Coordinator, the RVT must make sure appointments are getting their necessary treatments (heart worm tests, injections, vaccines, x-rays, etc.) She must also incorporate any walk-in treatments (nail trims, anal glands, allergy injections). Triage is also at the forefront of this position. The RVT must decide what patients need treatment or care, and in what order based on differing degrees of illness or urgency.
Our night shift RVTs are also in charge of discharging the surgeries and dentals from the morning, while still leading treatments for the day. They must be kept in tune with each pet, their procedure, and be able to go over any medications, home care, and answer any arising questions about what the owners can expect bringing their pet home.
The most amazing thing for me to watch is during an emergency situation. When a patient is rushed to the back, an RVT immediately begins getting vitals and prepping for fluids or injections. The technician will begin life-saving, stabilizing treatments the second the patient is presented. In these dire minutes, an RVTs instincts and cognizance can be the difference between life and death. It is an amazing sight to see 2-3 people, working fastidiously and delicately to make sure that each critical situation is handled smoothly and the pet gets everything necessary to become stable or comfortable.
The simplest way to put it is this: a clinic without veterinary technicians is like a hospital without nurses, a dentist with no dental assistants, or an orchestra without a leader. It is for this that we honor them this week for Vet Tech Week, all the hard work they put in day in, day out to keep our furry friends happy, safe, and healthy.