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Veterinary Technicians play important roles

by Dr. Chris

September 30, 2008 Source http://news.therecord.com/Life/article/421838, by Dr. Louise Langlais Here are some great excerpts from a recent article on veterinary technicians by Dr. Louise:


Have you ever wondered who helps your veterinarian out during surgery? Who does the lab work in the clinic? Who develops X-rays? Who is in charge of the nursing care for pets?

The answer to all those questions is: the veterinary technician. Formerly known as animal health technicians or AHTs, the veterinary technician is a veterinarian's right-hand man (actually, most are women). They do a lot in the veterinary hospital and are an indispensable member of our teams.

Tracy, a registered veterinary technician, and Jenn, an animal care technician, are two techs who work in my clinic. A typical day for them might go like this:

Tracy arrives at 7 and Jenn at 7:30 in the morning. First comes patient care: feeding, changing bedding, cleaning kennels, and walking. They'll check vital signs (temperature, pulse, respiration) and administer any treatments ordered by the veterinarians. They'll record their findings on the patient's chart.

Next Tracy and Jenn obtain blood and urine samples from patients who need workups, including animals having surgery that day. They place IV catheters in animals requiring intravenous fluid therapy.

Tracy prepares for the morning's procedures. She'll take out surgical packs, suture materials, gowns, caps, masks and gowns. She'll make sure the dental unit, anesthetic machines and monitoring equipment are in good running order and ready to go. Tracy draws up anesthetic drugs in the doses calculated by the doctor, and selects the appropriate sizes of endotracheal tube for each patient. She'll help the veterinarian with anesthetic induction.

During each procedure, both Tracy and Jenn help monitor the anesthesia. For example, they check the patient's heart rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen levels, blood pressure and temperature. They record and chart the measurements in an anesthetic record, and advise the surgeon of any important trends. They continually check anesthetic depth, based partly on eye position, pupil size and jaw tone, so the patient can be maintained at just the right level, not too deep and not too light.

They also assist the veterinarian with taking and developing X-rays, obtaining laboratory samples throughout the day, getting histories from clients when dogs and cats come in for appointments, and looking after hospitalized patients. They help the receptionists field phone calls, triage patients, counsel clients on pet care and provide instructions on how to administer medications at home.

Next time you see your favorite vet tech, take the time to thank him or her for taking such good care of your pet.

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