On a weekly basis, veterinary technicians and assistants reach out to me wanting to know how they can further their careers in veterinary medicine. The following is just one example:

Hi Rebecca,

I've been a CVT for 18 years and now I find myself in need of changing careers. I love what I do but my body just isn't going to allow me to be a vet tech on the floor for much longer. Unfortunately, that leaves me at a loss. I have no idea what else is out there for someone like me. I have never done anything else and I want a career I am passionate about and continue to help patients. I have toyed with the idea of working with a consulting firm or maybe working with veterans and animals, but I'm not sure what is out there in those fields. Right now I'm open to learning about everything that might be an option. If you could give me some ideas as to how to go about finding out what else is out there, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you for your time,
Passionate Veterinary Technician

It saddens me to think there are hundreds of veterinary team members throwing in the towel, so to speak, and not having a conversation with their manager first. They decide to walk out the door because there is nothing else for them to do in the veterinary hospital without brainstorming with someone who may be able to help them.

Good news! There are many opportunities for your team members within veterinary hospitals! It may take some creative thinking, designing a new title with job description, and specific expectations to keep a long-time team member. The benefits far outweigh losing a valued, passion-driven employee.

Let's take a look at a few of the options that may be available to the aforementioned Passionate Veterinary Technician. For one thing, she may still be able to stay at her current place of employment, after having a heart-to-heart conversation with her manager, and determining there are opportunities in-house. A win/win situation for everyone! As an example, she may be able to step into a middle- or upper-management position instead of working for a "consulting firm." Maybe there are training programs that need to be implemented, or safety management opportunities. Consider starting an enhanced pet hospice care service or puppy training courses. Perhaps there is a way to bring a veteran outreach program into the hospital as an added service.

Sitting down with a supervisor and explaining a technician's circumstances and passion may be enlightening. Often times, the conversation is not brought to light. It is a shame that so many technicians and assistants leave a veterinary hospital not knowing how they could have fulfilled their career in the hospital they were in.

In the book I co-authored for AAHA Press, Career Choices for Veterinary Technicians: Opportunities for Animal Lovers, we offer suggestions and resources for this exact quandary--team members wanting to further their career within veterinary hospitals and beyond.

In the chapter, "Traditional Veterinary Practice," we discuss veterinary technician specialties (11 currently available and the academies are growing), geriatric care, alternative medicine, animal massage, and much more. Other titles to consider may include social media coordinator, inventory specialist, lead surgical tech, outpatient coordinator, and the list goes on.

The point is, during performance reviews, talk to your team members about professional goals and help them to create an engaging, fulfilling career. Ask them where they want to take their career before they walk out the door to find a new path. With a little time, listening, and imagination, they may be able to find continued job satisfaction within the veterinary hospital.

Order your copy of Career Choices for Veterinary Technicians: Opportunities for Animal Lovers from AAHA's online store today, or call 800-883-6301.



Comments (1) -

9/5/2014 2:14:05 PM #

I agree with this statement.  I graduated as a Registered Vet Tech in 1989 and over the years, quickly rose to become a Senior Vet Tech with additional responsibilities in administrative, supervisory, scheduling and other middle-management duties, over and above my daily vet tech duties.  I served in this role for many years with various employers, with the same sad pay and lack of room for advancement despite my demonstrated skills, passion for excellence in this position, and years of experience.  

Unfortunately, in my personal experience - the position of "office manager" was often held by the veterinarian's spouse who "married into the position" and otherwise had NO experience or training in the veterinary or hospital management field and their only "qualification" for the position was title of "vet spouse" - NOT a valid qualification at all.  And as you can imagine, working under someone in this position was an exercise in frustration but what was I to do?  

As a result of this lack of advancement (and spouse managers protecting their jobs), there was no discussion about advancement opportunities and I became disheartened and left the veterinary profession, despite my continued passion for the job!  I am too old for the daily physical demands of a tech (namely, wrestling with patients), however, with over 20 years experience as a tech with middle management experience, and a desire to lead and inspire others, I feel that there is still a niche for trained and skilled people, such as myself, to fill advanced roles in practice.  

There are too many valuable employees, like me, who walk away from a career that has provided us great personal rewards because we are not encouraged by our employers, who lack the insight and knowledge of clinical practice to retain and develop motivated employees into new roles!    

I am pleased to see this book is now available so that techs can be inspired with new ideas that they may be able to present to employers regarding options for advancement!  There are more opportunities for advancement now than ever before and I just wish I had authored this book myself.

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