National Veterinary Technician Week
Veterinary technicians are poorly understood. Few people know what they do or appreciate their vital role in veterinary medicine. To promote the contributions of veterinary technicians, in 1994 the executive board of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians declared the third week of October as National Veterinary Technician Week, which this year is October 16-22.
What do veterinary technicians do?
Veterinary technicians are on the frontlines of in all corners of North America. They also work in specialty animal hospitals, non-profit organizations, research facilities and government agencies and teaching institutions. Working under the supervision of a veterinarian and closely with clients whose animals may have emotional, mental or physical health issues, they are integral members of veterinary healthcare teams. Vet techs work throughout the clinic—in examination rooms, labs, and operating rooms—applying their extensive technical knowledge and compassion in treating and caring for animals. Specific vet tech tasks include:
- Examining animals
- Explaining proper health and nutrition to animal owners
- Taking and recording vital signs
- Recording and updating medical records
- Performing diagnostic imaging, such as x-rays
- Taking specimens for laboratory tests, such as drawing blood
- Preparing animals for surgery
- Preparing equipment for surgery
- Administering and monitoring anesthesia
- Administering vaccinations or medications prescribed by the veterinarian
- Administrative tasks
Veterinarians leverage all that vet techs bring to the table, including their compassion and smiles, to optimize the delivery of medical care to animals. Without vet techs, most veterinary clinics would be dysfunctional.
A brief history of the veterinary technician profession
The first organized effort to train veterinary assistants took place in England in 1908. In the U.S. it was not until 1960, however, that the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) instituted certification for three different levels of animal technicians. In the 1960s, the Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the US Army, Ralston Purina, and the State University of New York (SUNY) established training programs for animal technicians. In 1967, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) began establishing criteria for acceptable animal technician training programs, and in 1972 the first accreditation procedures for animal technician programs were instituted under the AVMA.
In 1981, the North American Veterinary Technician Association was formed to represent all veterinary technicians—to give them an identity and a voice. The name was subsequently changed to the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), a non-profit organization that works closely with AVMA to support and promote the profession and that is responsible for the development and accreditation of veterinary technician specialties.
Why National Veterinary Technician Week is important
Despite their education, knowledge, talents and responsibilities, veterinary technicians are often not recognized for their diverse skillsets and contributions and are rarely afforded the respect they richly deserve. National Veterinary Technician Week, however, highlights the myriad ways vet techs contribute to veterinary medicine and society and celebrates and promotes the profession. In so doing, it raises awareness of the profession and all that the job entails—including the risks inherent in providing care to animals, even seemingly docile ones, which, in an unfamiliar environment full of strangers, may lash out in fear or anger. Through social media and other communications outlets, the week-long celebration also provides an opportunity for veterinary technicians to recognize each other for their professionalism and performance. On top of this, National Veterinary Technician Week encourages talented and caring people to enter the field, thereby sustaining and driving forward veterinary medicine.
Theme of National Veterinary Technician Week 2022
National Veterinary Technician Week 2022 launches on Sunday, October 16, with a range of raffles and prizes through NAVTA’s social media sites. Several companies are making special offers available to NAVTA members. “This year’s celebration focuses on the resiliency of Veterinary Technicians,” said Ashli Selke, RVT, CVT, president of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians. “One definition of ‘resilience’ that I think is extremely appropriate for veterinary technicians is, ‘the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress.’ There is much truth to this perspective, especially in light of the stress and procedural changes that the pandemic has wrought over the last couple of years. “Resilience won’t make your problems go away,” Selke concluded, “but being resilient can give you the ability to see past your problems and better handle stress and change. This incredible asset makes veterinary technicians the heart of veterinary medicine.”
Just Vet Solutions has the utmost respect for veterinarian technicians and offers solutions that help them and other members of veterinary teams contribute to successful, thriving practices. Click here to learn more about how we could help your clinic achieve its goals.