I find that the public often doesn’t know just what it is that veterinary technicians do. Due to this, there are often misconceptions and preconceived notions about what techs are, what we do, and how vital we may, or may not be. Here are my top ten misconceptions about veterinary technicians
1. We’re in it for the money
I don’t know about you all, but if I were just in it for the money I would get another job lickety split. Being a veterinary professional is not something any of us do because we’re in it for the money. We don’t earn much, despite the tirade of complaints we get due to high prices. We’re in it because we love animals, plain and simple. We love to help those that need it most, and give a voice to those that have none. We like to bleed, sweat and cry to make sure that every animal is happy, healthy, and treated fairly.
2. We overcharge
I live in Canada where health care is free, so this may not be a world wide issue, but because our health care is free, the public tends to forget just how expensive medication can be, or how expensive a doctor’s visit is. It’s very, very easy to wrack up a bill if you don’t have insurance that covers it for you. But that’s not our fault! We don’t make those prices up willy nilly. They’re created so that the clinic doors can stay open, new technologies can be paid for and staff can be compensated. We don’t like telling you that our exam fee is such and such, and unfortunately we cannot offer a payment plan!
3. Veterinary technicians are the same as veterinary assistants
This is a bit of a sensitive issue, and by no means do I mean that veterinary assistants aren’t every bit as good as vet techs. There is, however, a difference between the two. Vet assistants are the best at restraining animals, I actually learned a new hold from a VA just last week. They also are the ones that tend to do the grooming, help the clients at reception, fill orders and keep everyone else in line and ensure that everyone has the help they need. Vet techs will be doing the blood draws, the surgical monitoring, the medication administrations and the TPRs overnight. They are two very different jobs, and neither is more important than the other!
4. Veterinary technicians are like nurses, and need specializations
False! Nurses and human technicians ( for example a radiology technician), need to go to school for that particular line of work. Vet techs learn everything in their school. While we do have the option to specialize if we have the will, time and resources, we don’t have to. We learn how to be dental hygienists, radiology technicians, phlebotomists and nurses all in one. We also have to learn how to be lab technicians, nutritionists and groomers for at least 3 different species. Aren’t vet techs cool?
5. All vet techs want to become veterinarians.
Also false! Most of us are very happy being veterinary technicians. The only things we cannot do are diagnose and perform surgery, and most of us are very happy within those constraints! Despite popular belief, we often actually have more contact with the animals and the humans that come with the animals than the vets do.
6. We’re in it because we don’t want to work with humans
Speaking of working with animals, and not humans - that’s another thing we don’t do. A lot of our job is about human contact and dealing with clients. We’re there to reassure them when we run some tests on their pets, when we explain vaccines and fleat and tick medication. We’re there to comfort them in a time of loss, and to educate them on how to prevent loss. A lot of our job is actually about not only connecting with the pets, but the clients behind the pets too.
7. We play with puppies and kittens all day
I wish that were all we did! Puppies and kittens are fun, all they want to do is eat, cuddle, sleep and go to the bathroom. That would be a great job. Unfortunately, playing with puppies and kittens is not something we even get to do a lot, especially if we're in emerengcy medicine! There's dealing with a whole lot of bodily fluids (like various forms and consistencies of poop, urine, blood, vomit, or the occasional placenta), dealing with the bitey ends and the claws. We deal with taking and running their blood, wrestling on the xray table, making sure they're doing well under anesthesia and giving medications. To be fair though, I would prefer doing all of that with playing with puppies and kittens all day!
What do you think is a misconception that people have about us?