Getting into the veterinary field as a technician isn't an easy feat. Between the competitive entry into the program, challenging courses, and practical exams, the schooling alone is demanding. Despite this fact, thousands of brave souls enter into this career because of one thing: a genuine passion for animals.
The sad part about this? The majority of these people do not stay in the field past the seven-year mark. In the end, that passion for animals and time, money, and effort spent on earning the diploma are not enough. Here are some reasons we believe contribute to technicians leaving the veterinary world behind.
1. Poor pay
This one won't come as a surprise to anyone. It's a known fact that veterinary nurses, in general, are not paid well. When I was contemplating this career, I was told by a mentor that mine would be a "contributing" salary, not a breadwinning one. At the time, I was 16, and this didn't mean much. I lived at home and had no idea how quickly rent and car payments added up. I just wanted to help animals.
Unfortunately, helping animals doesn't always pay the bills, and many technicians leave the field to look for greener pastures. For those who choose to stick it out, there are opportunities to supplement a technician's paycheck. Some entrepreneurial technicians start a pet sitting business. Becoming a manager or supervisor in the practice often comes with a pay raise. Looking into different avenues of veterinary medicine is also a good idea; sales positions, research, and emergency work usually pay better than general practice.
2. Bad bosses
It's often said that people don't quit their job, they quit their boss. It might sound harsh, but we all know there is truth in this statement. You may like your job, your clients, and your co-workers, but if your boss makes life miserable for you, it overshadows all those good things.
In the end, you need to protect yourself from people who make you feel small or unappreciated. Don't be afraid to leave negativity behind and find a leader who truly appreciates all you have to offer. Often this means merely changing clinics, but for some technicians, it means leaving the career entirely.
3. Nowhere to go
A massive issue for many technicians is feeling as though they've been there, done that. They are bored and frustrated with the monotony of the day-to-day. Being challenged is crucial for technicians to not only succeed but thrive in their career. If your workplace isn't supplying this challenge, look into things you can do for yourself- extra CE, conferences, or education that will push you past your comfort zone.
4. It's not how we thought it would be
When you graduate from your technician program, let's face it: you feel like a rockstar. You are pumped and ready to take on the world, kicking butt and saving lives. It would be awesome if this sense of invincibility lasted forever, but unfortunately, it doesn't. Reality kicks in fast and usually it's not anything like you expected it would be.
Sadly many technicians are underutilized, and the countless skills they mastered in school go to waste. Most are not prepared for this and become understandably frustrated. If you are a manager or head technician, ensure your newbies are supported and allowed to use their skills. Don't let more seasoned technicians (or overly eager veterinarians) "hog" the responsibilities!
5. Compassion fatigue
This is a term that everyone in vet med is all too familiar with. Contributing factors can include clients' high expectations, the pressure to perform flawlessly, long days without breaks, and the stress we experience when we lose a patient. These and numerous other issues can push us past our limit and towards another career path.
Because this is such a prevalent concern, there is a widespread support network to help veterinary team members. Check with your provincial or state technician group for resources. Getting a handle on compassion fatigue will undoubtedly prevent good technicians from saying goodbye to vet med.
6. Aches and pains
Sometimes, the choice to leave teching behind is simple: you can't physically do it anymore. We lift, hoist, drag, kneel, and at the end of our day, our FitBit is usually happy with the number of steps registered. This all takes a toll on a body and sadly the only choice left is to leave it behind for a "cushier" job.
If you decided to leave your tech career behind, was it because of one of these reasons, or something else? If you are still in the tech industry, what keeps you there?