This week is Veterinary Technician Week, that one week out of the year when we try to do something to say “Thank You” to our two employees that deserve so much more.
The job of a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT) is very underappreciated. They are so often compared to human nurses, but are so much more. First of all, nurses generally make a lot more money than LVTs. This is a shame considering an LVT can perform a long list of medical services including, but not limited to, some surgeries, all vaccinations, euthanasia, and many lab tests. LVTs allow doctors the time to tend to sick patients and do the things that only doctors can do.
To become an LVT is also not easy. A person must have a real passion for animals, and a strong math and science background. There are often many pre-requisite courses that need completed before a person can even apply for the technician program. Even applicants that have a 4-year college degree often need to take additional science courses. The school is full-time and is 2 years long. Once a person has completed the school, this does not automatically make them a licensed tech. The key word here, of course, is licensed. They must then take the test to become licensed, and sometimes have to take an additional test in the state in which they practice.
Getting into school is pretty difficult as there are only so many schools that offer a Veterinary Technician program. There are no local schools; the closest being Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, VA or Northern VA Community College near D.C. There are some programs online that are accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association but they usually require the student be an employee in an animal hospital and have a mentor who is a Veterinarian. There are also many programs that are not accredited that sound really good and cost a fair sum of money, only to create headaches for the person trying to get their license.
Once licensed, the technician has to maintain their license. This requires an annual fee to renew that license as well as so many hours of continuing education (Virginia requires 6 hours per year but will soon require 10 hours). The fees for licensing and continuing education are sometimes covered by employers but otherwise covered by the technician. Even if an LVT is working part time or chooses to not work for a while, they must still meet the requirements to maintain their license.
I have met many people over the years who have had an interest in becoming a licensed veterinary technician. While it can be a very rewarding job, there are also days in which our technicians wish they had chosen a different career path. I just want to say a big “Thank You” to Grovia and Beth for their hard work and their dedication to the patients of Grafton Animal Hospital.