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October 17-23 marks Veterinary Technician Appreciation Week! Vet techs are essential to the everyday workings of veterinary clinics and hospitals. In human health care we have nurses, lab techs, dietitians, anesthesiologists, radiation techs, and many more, but in veterinary health care vet techs cover all of those jobs. So take some time this week to say thank you to your vet techs for their hard work, compassion, experience, and care.

What is a vet tech?

blonde man in blue scrubs using stethoscope on old shepherdVeterinary technicians are an integral part of a veterinary care team. They have gone through a specific 2-4 year education program and practicum accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities. They also commit to participating in continuing education annually to stay up to date with the most current research.

Vet techs have been educated in the principles of both normal and abnormal life processes and in laboratory and clinical procedures and are responsible for the care and handling of all animals who enter their clinic or hospital. They work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian and can assist in performing a wide variety of tasks. However they cannot diagnose, prescribe medications, perform surgery, or engage in any activity prohibited by a state’s veterinary practice act.

In addition to those regular responsibilities, vet techs may also specialize in certain areas after more training, testing, and a certification. Those specialties include anesthesia, clinical pathology, dental technology, dermatology, emergency and critical care, internal medicine, and nutrition among others. Visit the NAVTA website for a complete list.

When your furry friend goes to the clinic, vet techs are the professionals who are trained to:

  • obtain your pet’s medical history
  • collect specimens and perform lab procedures, including blood work and immunizations
  • provide specialized nursing care
  • prep your pet and the necessary tools for surgery
  • administer and monitor anesthesia
  • assist in surgical care and diagnostic imaging
  • perform dental prophylaxis
  • educate you on your pet’s health and medical needs

Check out this video honoring vet techs for their contributions to veterinary medicine:

How to celebrate your vet tech

This year Vet Tech Appreciation Week is focusing on the message of self care. Over the last year and more, vet techs have had to handle a workload and stress level that was beyond anything the veterinary community had seen before. Techs are on the frontlines every day, compassionately working with each pet and their owner to provide the best care possible. NAVTA writes that “they work tirelessly in exam rooms, labs, and operating rooms, putting to work their vast technical and scientific knowledge treating and caring for every species of animal.  Their broad skills – both professional and personal – allow veterinarians to work more efficiently and effectively.  And they do it all with love and a smile, day after day.”

While it is important to recognize their contribution to veterinary medicine, we must also recognize the importance of self care and support them in their efforts toward a healthy work-life balance.

If you’d like to do more than just thank your vet tech, here are some ideas for vet tech themed gifts:

  • Vet tech themed apparel, face masks, or tote bags
  • Customized bandage scissors or stethoscope tags
  • Travel mugs or tumblers
  • Gift cards, for necessary supplies/memberships or for their favorite coffee shop/restaurant/store
  • Any of these customized gifts from Etsy

This week and every week we honor veterinary technicians for their commitment to high quality, compassionate care for all animals. Thank you for everything that you do.