NVTW: Technicians - Get involved with your community

In a world of job shortages and shrinking salaries, veterinary technicians continue to work hard every day to keep tails wagging and clients smiling.

During National Veterinary Technician Week, clinics across the nation are remembering the important work technicians do.

Though technicians don’t diagnose an animal or design a treatment plan, they do everything else a clinic needs. From running lab work to placing catheters and drawing blood, technicians provide the support a clinic requires in order to continue functioning.

Veterinary technician Marta Wilkinson, CVT, works at West Ridge Animal Hospital in Greeley, Colo. She has been a technician for over 20 years.

"In high school, I always wanted to be a veterinarian," Wilkinson said. "When my parents and I saw technicians at a career fair, I decided to go to Bel-Rea instead. That’s where I really fell in love with working one-on-one with the pets."

Being the one pets and their owners rely on for care and life-saving medication is what Wilkinson loves, she said.

"Being there to take care of them all the time and administer those life-saving medications is really rewarding," she said. "When I run anesthesia, I have a pet’s life in my hands. The veterinarians and doctors trust techs to care for the pet’s life while they are doing surgery."

Client communication is a key part of Wilkinson’s job as a managing technician. Working with clients to help them understand what is happening with their pets is important to her, she said.

"People don’t realize the extent of what technicians do," Wilkinson said. "Vets can help pets and diagnose them, but techs have such a broad range of things to do, from client education to radiology, and even more. I really enjoy helping clients out, especially when they walk away with their pets and we can know that we’ve done them a great service."

From dogs hit by cars to lost pelicans, a technician’s job is ever-changing.

"Being there to help an animal in a dire crisis situation really gets your adrenaline going," she said. "The months of recovery and care for an animal can be smelly, messy and a lot of hard work, but it is very rewarding at the end of it all."

Wilkinson said the opportunities for technicians are endless. From becoming certified in specialties and sub-specialties to working for the government or food companies, technicians can keep growing in their careers.

Getting involved in the larger veterinary technician community is also key to career growth, Wilkinson believes. She got involved with the Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians, working as an editor for the newsletter.

While involvement requires more time and is a lot of work, Wilkinson said it is very rewarding and enables technicians to continue learning and growing in their careers.

"It’s important to expand more, and to learn more," Wilkinson said. "Don’t get discouraged by the day-to-day of working with pets. Going out and doing something you’re interested in will help expand the hospital and your career. It’s important to not get stagnant, and to continue growing."

Technicians can start by joining committees or boards so that they can branch out and meet other people in their areas.

"It’s your career, it’s your organization," Wilkinson said. "You get to call the shots. You need to get involved if you don’t like how things are going. Getting involved is a great way to learn lots and to keep growing."