Veterinary technician appointment guidelines
Practice manager Kyle Palmer, CVT, offers guidelines for technician appointments, transitioning from technician to doctor appointments, and more.
For a downloadable Word document of these guidelines, click here.
Technician Appointment Guidelines
1. Before speaking to the client inside or outside the exam room, review the patient’s record for overdue vaccines, unresolved follow-up recommendations, and a general history of recent conditions and notes. Note the patient’s name and use it often.
2. Introduce yourself to the client by name and as a technician. This helps the client understand from the start that you are not the veterinarian but that you are confident in your position and performance.
3. After introducing yourself to the client, say hello to the patient by name.
4. Get a thorough history from the client, including questions based on your knowledge of our guidelines. For example, you’re presented with an adult dog—up to date on vaccines—with diarrhea. While you may not advance your opinion or a diagnosis, you should ask whether there have been changes in the pet’s diet or routine, whether the patient has access to a river or stream, etc. Remember: This is only an opportunity to expand the history, not to offer your thoughts about the symptoms. (These are strictly your observations. Keep your recorded comments limited to measurable observations and client statements. If you observe troubling symptoms or abnormal results, or if the client has specific diagnostic questions, immediately transition to a veterinarian appointment.)
5. Complete and record the following observational assessments:
a. Body conditioning score
c. Visual ear check for debris, signs of irritation, or inflammation
d. Visual oral check for tartar buildup or gingival irritation
e. Visual eye check for discharge
f. Visual coat check for fleas or flea dirt
g. Visual nail check (offer a nail trim if needed)
h. Heart rate
i. Respiratory rate
6. Ask the client for any questions or concerns and note them. Relay these to a veterinarian as needed.
7. Proceed to the patient’s original reason for the visit.
8. Thank the client and make sure he or she understands the need for necessary follow-up care or visits.
Transitioning From a Technician Appointment to a Veterinarian Appointment
Technician appointments allow you to perform certain procedures without impacting your veterinarian’s schedule. In most cases, clients make these appointments to save money or time or both. When you perform a technician appointment, you’re acting as an extension of the veterinarian and the practice. It’s crucial to be consistent with the practice’s guidelines and philosophy. Whenever a patient is presented with something the client feels is abnormal, excuse yourself and talk with a veterinarian. Depending on the doctor’s recommendations, you may be asked to relay information to the client or recommend that the client set up a veterinarian appointment. If he or she declines, note that on the patient’s record and, if possible, finish the technician appointment.
Procedures Appropriate for Technician Appointments
(Note: Laws about which duties credentialed technicians are allowed to perform vary by state. Be sure to check your state’s practice art for a definitive list.)
1. Admit/discharge for procedures or hospitalization
2. Vaccinations when a proper veterinarian-client-patient relationship is already established (this includes rabies, although the certificate is signed by the supervising veterinarian)
3. Microchip implantation
4. Maintenance grooming appointments: ear cleaning, nail trims, anal gland expressions, soft paws application, non-sedated bathing, or mat removal
5. Previously ordered diagnostic testing or testing that is recommended on a set schedule
6. Urine collection via cystocentesis
7. Previously ordered radiographs
8. Orthopedic radiographs
9. Medication administration
10. Client training on medication administration, bandaging, or nail trims