There are many unsung heroes of veterinary medicine -- the person on the other side of the receiver, the one holding the door, processing a transaction, scheduling an appointment, counting and checking medications, evaluating medical records, cleaning the clinic, gathering history, and more.
Without all of these amazing humans committed to these tasks, we would absolutely fail at our mission to offer exceptional care and serve pets and their people. This is an all-too-brief and inadequate shout out to these essential workers who deserve high praises. Please know you are appreciated!
But, in light of this week being Vet Tech Week, I want to focus on some people who profoundly impact veterinary medicine.
The dictionary definition of a technician is "an expert in the practical application of a science or a person skilled in the technique of an art or craft".
On the one hand, these definitions are true - Vet Techs apply the science of medicine, as well as the "craft" of it. On the other hand, they fall far short of truly defining Vet Techs. There has been a recent movement to change their title to "Veterinary Nurse", which I am in full support of. But, still, no title appropriately encompasses all that they do….
- When a pet is diagnosed with a disease, who educates the family, advocates for the pet and facilitates the follow-up after treatments?
- When an animal is under anesthesia and needs to stay alive but pain free, who do you depend on?
- When a pet is scared and expresses it by freezing up, or releasing all bodily fluids (pee, poop, drool, anal glands) or when they panic, scratch, thrash and try to bite, who is there for them?
- When a pet is critically ill, who is cage-side monitoring them at all times?
- When diagnostics and treatments cost more than one wants to invest, who bears the family's frustration and does the mental gymnastics to explain and prioritize what's most important?
- When treatments or surgeries run late or a pet needs 24 hour monitoring, who sacrifices to watch through the night?
- When death is a relief of suffering and better than life, who is well-acquainted with death and helps counsel, comfort, and facilitate one of the most painful experiences day after day?
- When a pet comes in dirty, disheveled, uncomfortable, matted, nails overgrown, who is the first to compassionately care and address these issues?
- When you need talent to draw blood or place a catheter on variably sized patients from 2 pounds to 200 pounds, who is up for the challenge?
- Who is qualified to work in all the different areas of ICU, pediatrics, geriatrics, oncology, anesthesiology, rehabilitation and surgery every single day?
- Who also answers the phone, holds the door, schedules appointments, cleans the clinic, and does many other odd, often dirty jobs around the clinic?
- Who is bombarded with questions and demands from clients and doctors?
- Who is aging prematurely because of the physical demands of their job?
- Who is committed to learning every single day?
- Who knows the pet better than the doctor?
- Who is paid way less than they are worth?
If your answer to these questions was a Veterinary Nurse, you're exactly right! To those of you who have dedicated your lives and taken an oath to aid animals and society by providing excellent care and services for animals, thank you! Veterinary medicine could not function without all that you do and animals are fortunate to have you as heroes too!