14 ways to grow in your job

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Consider this list of ways to spice up your career as a credentialed veterinary technician.

All too often, we hear of credentialed veterinary technicians getting into a rut or burning out. Unfortunately, some people simply give up on the field out of boredom or lack of movement. The good news is, there are multiple ways to grow your career as a technician. Consider these options:

1. Pursue a specialty.

There are 11 different veterinary technician specialties. They include:

> dentistry

> anesthesiology

> internal medicine (with subcategories of small animal, cardiology, neurology, large animal, and oncology)

> emergency and critical care

> pathology

> nutrition

> clinical practice

> equine nursing

> surgery

> behavior

> and zoology.

Most of the specialties require the equivalent of working full time for three to five years, with 75 percent of your time spent in the area. There are usually case reports, CE requirements, case logs, and skill lists to acquire. Lastly, you're often required to take an examination after applying.

2. Become a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner (CVPP).

You can pursue CVPP certification through the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management. The requirements include 90 hours of continuing education related to pain, a skill list, two case reports, letters of reference, and photos of your pain management-related equipment and medications. After this, you will complete an examination to gain certification.

3. Become a Canine Massage Therapist (CMT) or an Equine Sports Massage Therapist (ESMT).

These programs usually consist of continuing education courses, tests, and proof of hands-on experience either through video tape, on-site classes, or wet labs. This can be a wonderful addition to any general practice, as massage can be beneficial to many of our patients, even if just as a relaxation tool, and it can contribute to your practice's income.

4. Volunteer your services abroad.

There are many opportunities to volunteer abroad and help animals as a veterinary technician. This experience can be rewarding, and you may even make some lifelong friends along the way. Some good places to check out include Vet Nurses in the Wild and VIDA.

5. Become a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM).

Many credentialed technicians find a niche in administrative positions, such as hospital management. The requirements include three years in hospital management, 18 college credit hours related to management, 48 CE hours related to management, four letters of recommendation, and a skill list with designated points achieved and signed by your employer. To complete certification, you will also take an exam.

6. Pursue writing opportunities.

Many well-respected veterinary journals and magazines look for authors who are credentialed veterinary technicians. Some even pay honoraria, which can be a nice bit of cash to earn on the side. There's also a market for credentialed technicians to write textbooks for veterinary and veterinary technician students. Brainstorm ideas you feel well versed on.

7. Become a board member of your state technician association or NAVTA.

It can be rewarding to help your profession flourish as a board member on your state board. You can network as well as work on projects to better your profession.

8. Pursue another area of practice.

For some technicians, their niche is general practice, and they couldn't imagine doing anything else. But if you feel burned out, consider a change of direction—pharmaceutical sales or technical support for reference labs and food companies as well as working at a teaching hospital, zoo, or specialty practice.

9. Become an instructor.

You may think you can't be an instructor because all of the veterinary and veterinary technology schools are far away. Although on-site instruction is a great option, don't feel like you 're out of the game because these on-site options aren't available to you. Web-based learning companies often look for instructors for their CE courses.

10. Become a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CCRP).

With rehabilitation therapy, technicians have the great opportunity to offer their practice a special skill­­—one that no one else in the practice may be trained to offer. The program consists of courses, both online and on-site, a practicum, and an exam.

11. Seek Healing Touch for Animals certification.

Courses focus on holistic care and energy work. Ultrasound, laser, and essential oil therapy are just a few of the topics covered in this certification.

12. Learn and practice Animal Reiki.

Reiki is the study of energy flow in the body through meridians and chakras, and it's a method that applies hands-on healing. Although there isn't an official certification process, those who take classes in Reiki at established schools are often called Reiki practitioners or masters.

13. Pursue speaking engagements.

Although many professionals are asked to speak at conferences and other continuing education events, it's in your control to market yourself to your community as a speaker. By being published, showing a wealth of knowledge in a certain area, and pursuing additional certifications, you improve your chances of being recruited.

14. Volunteer with a Canine Search and Rescue or Animal Emergency Response Team.

There are usually search and rescue as well as emergency response teams in most states. If you're interested in volunteering, be prepared to take some additional courses and training. Some organizations keep a list of available professionals to call on when needed.

This list, of course, isn't all encompassing, and there are many more opportunities, including practice ownership (depending on state laws), owning a pet-related business, obtaining your Veterinary Dental Technician (VDT) certification through the American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians (different from a VTS certification in dentistry), and becoming a licensed wildlife rehabber.

If you have a strong desire to achieve any of these goals, you have the intelligence and skill make it happen. Just remember, anything worth having is worth working hard for!

Oriana D. Scislowicz, BS, LVT, VDT, is a technician in Richmond, Va.

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