10 career moves for veterinary technicians

June 2, 2017

Dont stay stuck in your career. There are plenty of doors waiting for you to open and explore.

Let your career options as a veterinary technician lift you up! Photo: Shutterstock.com You stepped into the profession with high hopes and goals. Have they come true? Or are you feeling burned out on the repetitive duties that, while important, can get stale in general practice?

Veterinary medicine changes every day. Some days by leaps and bounds … others by micro-steps. And you know what? That's OK! There's a place for you within all of these changes. So what can you do while working in a general practice to further your career-and the profession? Here are a few ideas.

1. Become a CVPP. When you become a certified veterinary pain practitioner (CVPP), your hospital benefits from a trained and well-educated technician in the field of pain management. While most hospitals are now practicing higher levels of pain control, there's still much we can do to ensure our patients receive the highest level of pain management possible. (Check out the CVC for great continuing education on pain management topics.) 

2. Become a technician specialist. Whether you focus on clinical practice or specialize in a more focused area like surgery, dentistry or rehabilitation, you can bring knowledge and exceptional skills to general practice. Along with standardizing our title to registered veterinary nurse, specialties help us take our careers to the next level by demonstrating our commitment to high-quality medicine, patient health and nursing. You can learn more about the specialty options here or here.

3. Volunteer with organizations, such as AVMA and AAHA. While it may not add to your paycheck, becoming a volunteer can add to your resume and your experience in vet med. And you'll make connections that last a lifetime.

4. Work with your state veterinary technician association. And if there isn't one already, start one! Working with your state technician association helps you stay on the front lines of what's required of you as a technician within your state. You're able to be a part of continuing education and veterinary legislation that's vital to us as technicians.

5. Teach at a local community college. This is not always the easiest path to take, but it's worthwhile if you enjoy teaching others. Not all states have programs, and those that do tend to hang onto their teachers. So it may be a long process to find a program that's the right fit. Volunteer at local colleges to try to get your foot in the door, or apply with online programs. The more teaching experience you have to go alongside your veterinary technician licensure, the better your chances of obtaining a position. Some programs may also require higher education-some may accept an associate's degree, while others may require a bachelor's.

6. Lead your hospital programs. Many hospitals have their own programs to educate and support clients and team members. Think outside the box and help your managers or owners develop and implement more. Some ideas include:

> Becoming a trial hospital for up-and-coming drugs

> Providing in-house CE programs for team members as well as hospital teams around the area

> Becoming an animal blood bank location

> Providing client education courses

> Being the nutrition leader for clients

> Bringing physical rehabilitation into your hospital

7. Become a community outreach leader. Your hospital is part of the community. Are you acting like it? Do members of your team attend community programs and take part? Does your hospital host community programs? Talk with local businesses and attend local events to spread the word on your hospital's name and the services.

8. Speak at conferences. Talk with state associations, local and national conferences and other hospitals in your area. If you're an expert in a particular area or topic in your field, share it with others! It will help open doors for your career.

9. Write articles on those topics of interest or experience and have them published in veterinary magazines (like, say, for instance, this one!)

10. Earn your CVPM. You might be surprised by how much your manager needs a hand in certain areas. All you have to do is ask. And there are wonderful management training programs to help that goal become a reality. (Check out more on becoming a CVPM here).

Many technicians start out in general practice but decide to leave because they feel like their career is stagnant. Don't let this happen to you. Look around and find a new direction to boost your career and improve the medicine that you practice.

Ann Johnson, LVT, is a veterinary technician at Hayfield Animal Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia.