The first step in deciding on becoming a veterinary technician is to understand what a vet tech does on a daily basis. Kate Rush, a graduate of the Vet Tech Institute says, “I always knew I wanted to work with animals. I was always bringing home stray animals.” In her current job, she is responsible for monitoring patients in ICU and alerting the veterinarian of any changes in conditions. She plays a critical role in helping animals get well.
Before deciding to become a vet tech, Ms. Rush believes that everyone should spend time shadowing at a veterinary hospital to make sure that you can handle both the medical side (not everyone likes needles) and the emotional side of being a vet tech. “It’s not easy to see an animal go through medical treatments. My favorite part is when an animal gets better and is able to go home to their owner," said Ms. Rush.
Being a vet tech means that you will get to spend lots of time with animals. You won’t spend all of that time cuddling your patients (although that is always a perk of the job). Vet techs are responsible for performing a variety of medical procedures and will need to attend a specialized program to learn those skills. Typically, the programs can be completed in 16-20 months, but are very rigorous and include math and science courses, in addition to surgical rotations. “I studied every night. Now that I’m working as a vet tech, I realize how much math I use every day to calculate medicines,” said Rush. Hands-on programs with access to on-site kennels and surgical rotations will help students gain confidence in their abilities.
According to Ms. Rush, vet techs with specific skills and qualities are more likely to be successful. Those skills include being organized, being able to read an animal’s body language, understanding medical terminology, and being able to communicate effectively with the veterinarian and clients. She also believes that trust is a crucial part of being successful. Vet techs need to have the trust of the veterinarians, animals. and clients.
After graduating from some programs, graduates will be able to take a licensing exam. Passing the VTNE exam is one way to increase your salary and your seniority. “Lots of places give raises to techs after they pass their boards,” said Ms. Rush. “I am planning on taking another specialty licensing test, which will give me another pay raise.” A major benefit to being a vet tech is that you’ll get the best care for your own animals. “I have been able to give my dog the best care and can always ask the lead veterinarian questions. I know that my dog has benefited,” said Ms. Rush.
Her final advice is to pick a school where you feel supported and that offers lots of opportunities to interact with animals. “ I graduated from my school prepared for a career that I knew I would love,” said Ms. Rush.
Find out more about the Veterinary Technology program at the Vet Tech Institute at Fox College!