This blog is an assignment for a course in the Provincial Instructor Diploma Program at Vancouver Community College. As a Registered Veterinary Technologist, my continued goal is to "get the word out" to the public about what exactly that is and why you should make sure your veterinary clinic employs one. As an educator of Veterinary Technologists, my goal is to encourage my students to think outside the box in their education and aspire to be life-long learners. There are massive amounts of Continuing Education modules, articles and quizzes out there and there is always something new to learn. I hope this blog will provide some resources that my students will find helpful to their learning and inspire them to be an advocate for their patients and their profession.
Did you know that there is no legislation that requires education or regulation of those who perform tasks such as anesthesia and dental cleaning in animals? Currently, a veterinary clinic owner may hire anyone off the street and permit them to perform these tasks. Tasks that, for people, would only be permitted to be performed by someone who has the skill, knowledge, and qualifications required to do so competently and safely. Currently in BC, under the law, it is permissible for a high school student to be 'trained' (even by other staff) to do such tasks. Now many would say that dogs and cats are not people. But today, many people consider their pets family. Furry and four-legged, but family nonetheless. I don't want someone unqualified anesthetizing my family; do you?
Each year, my program graduates 25 to 30 Veterinary Technologists and the program at TRU in Kamloops graduates about as many. There is also a distance education program that graduates upwards of 50 per year. So why is there not at least one in every clinic or hospital? Part of the reason is wages: we certainly don't get into this profession for the money. But I think that is part of the bigger problem: we aren't paid what we are worth because a clinic can hire someone at minimum wage to do the job. So, many RVTs don't stay in the profession for very long. We may graduate close to 100 VTs in the province every year, but if less than half of them stick around, we are fighting a losing battle. We must educate pet owners on who is working "in the back" when the vet takes them out of the exam room. Ask your vet to promote the fact that you have your credential to clients. Have your vet say "My RVT, Kirsten, will collect some blood from Fluffy and bring her right back to you". Use your title when you are introducing yourself to clients (not "tech" or "vet tech"; Registered Veterinary Technologist). When someone asks what you do, don't say "I am a nurse for animals" (not that it isn't part of the job); take them through a day in the life! I anesthetize, collect blood, run fecal samples, hold clients hands, answer phone calls, clean kennels, take x-rays.... Be proud of your skills, your knowledge and your credential: you have earned it!