I’ve been a Veterinary Technician now for nearly 5 years. When I first started, I thought my time would be spent strictly in the treatment and surgery areas. I quickly learned that we’ve got important roles all over the hospital. As far as Clayton Park Veterinary Hospital goes, we’ve got a role in nearly every room. Let me take you on a virtual tour of Clayton Park Veterinary Hospital, starting at the front.
Reception: On any given day, we can be up front either retrieving technician appointments, educating clients on medications, going overestimates, and even answering phones and booking appointments (the client care team love this!).
Exam Rooms: The doctors tend to call on us if they’ve got “strong-willed” patients in the exam rooms and they need some assistance, keeping pets calm and safe. There are also clients who prefer to be present for blood draws on their fur baby, so we grab our supplies and head to the room. Our exam rooms are also where we tend to go over our surgery discharge information with owners when they’re picking their pets up after a long day without them. Unfortunately, sometimes owners must say goodbye to their companions – as technicians, we make sure both the owner and their pet are comfortable during this difficult time. All staff in the hospital try and support this procedure and make it smooth in any way we can.
Pharmacy: Technicians are in this area quite often! Our Vet Assistants really appreciate when we help with filling prescriptions for appointments if they are running behind, and when we fill prescriptions that clients phone in. We can also slip into their role, if need be, to start appointments for doctors and be their go-to for getting medications ready, holding animals, starting up appointment notes, and putting in recheck calls.
Treatment: This is where we spend most our time and do the bulk of our work in the run of a day. If you’ve ever heard us refer to “out back”, this is what we are referring to. The treatment area is where technicians place IV catheters, do blood draws, hold animals for doctors to examine or to perform treatments such as subcutaneous fluids, administering medications, ear cleanings, nail trims, collecting samples to send off, or even just a bum shave. This is also the area where we calculate all our surgery doses, IV fluid rates, and take home medications. We do surgery notes, call clients, and recover patients in our treatment area as well.
Surgery: As a technician, in surgery, we position, shave, and prep the patient. We monitor throughout the entire procedure and record vital signs every 5 minutes throughout surgery and pass the doctor things they may need, all of which we do while making sure to keep everything sterile.
Dental: This is my favorite room in the hospital. I can make a real difference in animal’s lives in this room! I clean and polish all teeth (while a wonderful assistant assists in monitoring vitals). We also take radiographs for the doctor to assess the overall health of a tooth (and many of the doctors will discuss extractions with us based on the radiographs, which makes me feel pretty important in the process!). Once the doctor has come to a decision on extractions, the technician is responsible for providing “dental blocks;” injecting a numbing medication in a particular area to make sure patients wake up feeling as comfortable as possible after extractions.
X-Ray: This seems like a no-brainer, right? Technicians take radiographs so doctors have a better idea of what they may be dealing with. While this sounds simple enough, it can be very difficult to keep squirmy or aggressive animals still while taking x-rays. Not to mention that we are repeatedly exposing ourselves to radiation on a daily basis (we have dosimeters, to make sure we aren’t being exposed to too much radiation)!
Laboratory: In a human hospital, samples are drawn and sent to the lab where different people run the samples and give the results to the doctor. In a Veterinary Hospital, the same technicians who drew the blood also run the samples! We also make blood smears to confirm equipment findings. We look at urine under the microscope to look for infections and crystals and relay the results to the doctor. We package up samples to be sent to reference laboratories and perform weekly and monthly services to our machines to make sure they continue to give us quick and accurate results.
Cat and Dog Wards: We are responsible for keeping these areas clean and comfortable for patients. Many times, we will do treatments on sick patients in the cat/dog ward so they don’t have to move if they are in pain.
The Hallway: Technicians help to keep this area tidy – we receive our orders here daily and we help unpack the order when we can, laundry is a never-ending pile and we are responsible for keeping it under wraps.
The Staff Room: This one is kind of funny – other technicians will understand my humour here. I personally only use the staff room to heat up warming disks for our surgery patients or to heat up my warm beverage (for the third time, LOL). Technicians are incredibly dedicated to their jobs, and though we do take breaks, we tend to do it very quickly and it is often in the form of us shoving food in our face while we type surgery notes at a computer in the treatment area.
The role of a Veterinary Technician in a hospital is vast. It is fun, stressful, and challenging, and it has the potential to be very dangerous. But it can also be very rewarding, and the end of the day if our patients are home happy with their owners, then we did a great job. So, if you’re reading this, please remember to thank your Veterinary Technicians, and your Assistants as well – because we all doing a lot more than meets the eye to clients. And we do it strictly for our love of animals and nothing else.
Written by Kirsty Riemersma, RVT