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Thanking the unsung heroes of the clinic: Veterinary technicians

Publication
Article
dvm360dvm360 October 2023
Volume 54
Issue 10
Pages: 52

Veterinary professionals offer the best ways to show your appreciation during this National Veterinary Technician Week and beyond

Veterinary technician content is sponsored by Elanco for the month of October.

Highly skilled veterinary technicians have versatile responsibilities that range from drawing blood and monitoring anesthesia to comforting pet owners to calculating and clarifying dosages and pointing out anything the veterinarian may have missed. Every October, the veterinary medicine world celebrates the contributions of these individuals during National Veterinary Technician Week.

Renee Schmid, DVM, DABT, DABVT, manager of veterinary medicine and professional services and senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline, based in Bloomington, Minnesota, described to dvm360 how veterinary technicians play an integral role and complement their team members. "Veterinary technicians bring compassion, creativity, and knowledge to the veterinary world and are quite often the glue that holds everything together. I am not sure there is a veterinarian who can say they grew professionally without any help or influence from a veterinary technician,” Schmid said.

This year, National Veterinary Technician Week takes place October 15 to 21, 2023; however, their colleagues are showing thanks to technicians all year long. For the occasion, practice managers, veterinarians, and veterinary technicians themselves provided insight on the best ways to demonstrate appreciation and what motivates these critical members of the practice team.

Promote professional growth and leverage their skill sets

Showing thanks can be accomplished by something as simple as taking an interest in veterinary technicians’ career growth and supporting their education. This is especially important to do for these individuals, as their needs can often go under-recognized.

Tasha McNerney, BS, CVT, CVPP, VTS (Anesthesia and Analgesia), assistant director of education at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital in New Jersey, shared an anecdote with dvm360 of when an employer valued her education and its impacts. “My former employer sat me down many years ago and asked what aspects of the job I enjoyed. At the time, this was anesthesia and surgery, so he gave me more opportunities to work in anesthesia, [and] from then on, [he was on the lookout for] any anesthesia [continuing education].”

The employer also introduced McNerney to the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management and encouraged her to achieve her veterinary technician specialty certification in anesthesia. “Because of his genuine interest in my career satisfaction, I stayed at that practice for 13 years,” she said.

Along with promoting professional growth, properly using veterinary technicians’ robust skill sets helps boost efficiency while also supporting their job satisfaction.1 “What really elevates the veterinary technician for the long term is utilization to their fullest potential, which is continuously expanded with support for education, opportunity to practice new skills, and inclusion in discussions regarding case management,” said Ian Kanda, RVT, VTS (Exotics), with the Pet Hospital of Peñasquitos, in San Diego, California.

Small tokens of appreciation go a long way

Words of praise may seem minuscule, but they can bolster veterinary technicians’ confidence and motivate them at work. Marc Rosenberg, VMD, director at Voorhees Veterinary Center in New Jersey, emphasized that he expresses his gratitude regularly. “Our technicians are a pleasure. They are priceless, and I make it a point to let them know that every day. I can’t imagine where are our patients, clients, and vets would be without them.”

Small gifts or swag, free lunches, and events in honor of National Veterinary Technician Week can also leave an impact on veterinary technicians. Michael Natale, LVT, talent acquisition and retention manager with Veterinary Emergency Group and veterinary medicine teacher at Nassau BOCES, in Westbury, New York, noted that veterinary technicians weren’t always shown appreciation in the past. He highlighted a story of a prior National Veterinary Technician Week that he hasn’t forgotten. A board-certified criticalist at the hospital he worked for urged the leadership team to gift the veterinary technicians something small to demonstrate their appreciation. When this didn’t work, she took matters into her own hands. “A few days into [the week, this doctor walked] around the hospital, giving all the [veterinary technicians] Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards and [said], ‘Thank you.’ That right there showed me how truly genuine and appreciative she was about us....Something so small can go such a long way,” Natale said.

Year-round veterinary technician appreciation

In the dedication of Low-Cost Veterinary Clinical Diagnostics,2 Ryane Englar, DVM, DABVP (Canine and Feline Practice), associate professor at the University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine, writes, “Technicians are veterinarians’ shadows—literally and figuratively—although my hope in penning this dedication is that we can extract them from the shadows and into the light, where they belong. After all, they are the reason that I have survived veterinary practice. The reason I am a good veterinarian today is that I have been lifted on the shoulders of great technicians.”

Although there has been progress in appreciating veterinary technicians, it’s important to use National Veterinary Technician Week to celebrate their unwavering dedication, remarkable contributions, and continue recognizing them throughout the year. “This National Veterinary Technician Week—and always—they deserve our deepest appreciation,” said Jan Bellows, DVM, DAVDC, DABVP, FAVD, with All Pets Dental in Weston, Florida.

References

  1. National Veterinary Technician Week. American Veterinary Medical Association. Accessed August 30, 2023. https:// www.avma.org/national-veterinary-technician-week
  2. Englar RE, Dial SM. Low-Cost Veterinary Clinical Diagnostics. Wiley-Blackwell; 2022.
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