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Veterinary technician survival tips
Amy Newfield, MS, CVT, VTS(ECC), offered insightful advice for navigating your career and staying fulfilled as a veterinary technician
Surviving in the veterinary industry as a technician can be challenging, according to Amy Newfield, MS, CVT, VTS(ECC), director of veterinary nursing leadership at Veterinary Emergency Group. Oftentimes, technicians experience financial struggles, the public tends to disregard or misunderstand their position, and the hours are difficult.
Despite this adversity, Newfield described that this profession offers many rewards, and in recent years there has been a paradigm shift in the value of technicians, during her presentation at the 2022 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.1 For those who feel burnt out or stagnant in their career, Newfield provided these tips for remaining fulfilled in this role:
Find and obtain passion
Newfield explained you can’t survive as a veterinary technician if you aren’t feeling passionate. Over time, passions alter, she said. “What your passion is today, it can change and evolve,” she added. She encouraged attendees to ask themselves what they enjoy about their jobs or if they are burnt out or simply bored. She noted that the chances are although you like your career, but you must find your passion and niche.
As a veterinary technician there are many specialty areas that can be focused on such as cardiology, emergency medicine, and radiology, Newfield noted. If you have specialized in an area, Newfield said, you can narrow it down even further to find what it is you love. She illustrated some examples of questions that can help: Do you love giving blood transfusions? Do you love puppy behavior?
There are many avenues one can take, but you must recognize what it is you want to pursue. “You have to know what makes you smile because that is half the battle to formulating your plan,” said Newfield.
Newfield outlined the benefits of achieving a veterinary technician specialist (VTS) certificate. She noted that it places you at the forefront of your field, opens more opportunities (eg, speaking, publishing, teaching, etc), and most VTS’s earn higher salaries and are considered leaders. Being a VTS also allows you to follow your passion and “get very specific with what you want to learn about.” According to Newfield, there are over 11 specialties for VTS’s to hone in on the realm of veterinary medicine that interests them.
Additionally, she highlighted the importance of continuing education and constantly informing yourself on the innovations and most recent research in veterinary medicine to feel fulfilled in your career. “Medicine doesn’t stop growing and neither should you,” Newfield said.
Healthy work environment
Newfield explained, similar to how your passion can be stifled because you are not working in the specialty of medicine you love, a toxic work environment can also be detrimental to your passion. Newfield told attendees to reflect if they are in a toxic work environment, or if they are the toxic one contributing to the negative atmosphere.
She further explained that she conducted research via interviews with veterinary technicians questioning what aspect they don’t like about their jobs. The No.1 answer was gossip in the workplace, followed by laziness of fellow coworkers. Though there can be both “positive” and “negative” gossip, both are harmful and unwelcomed. Newfield also added that though many don’t like to admit it, it’s human nature to enjoy gossiping. “There’s some weird camaraderie…around gossip…you bring everybody into your evil circle of trust,” she said. She recommended keeping gossip to a minimal amount and even trying to avoid it at all costs.
The reality of gossip is it hurts people, breeds distrust, plus it offers no value to your career and won’t help you survive as a veterinary technician. When you’re surrounded by negative thoughts, it only brings you down. If others are gossiping around you at work, Newfield suggested, you have 3 choices: recognize and ignore it, express your concerns to the manager, or leave and find a healthier work environment.
Newfield urged attendees to determine their passion, work on educating themselves in their career, and find a healthy work environment. She also advised them to ensure they have a healthy work-life balance, and when they go home to unwind and not check their smartphones for work emails or notifications. “We are constantly helping others. We help our clients. We help our pets. We help coworkers. But we are not good—absolutely terrible—at helping ourselves. We have to be able to survive in this profession by helping ourselves, that is really important,” she said.
Newfield A. Survive in the field as a technician. Presented at: American Veterinary Medical Association Convention; July 29-August 2, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.