Sunday, May 6, 2012
The Challenges Vet Techs Face
I am often asked about the best and worst parts of being a vet tech and also about what makes a "super-tech". Although I cannot speak for every single person in the field, I imagine many will be nodding their head when they read my vet tech challenges list.
Here it goes:
Many veterinary technicians, unfortunately, are not adequately compensated for the wide range of work that they perform and manage on a day to day basis. Having said that, most people understand this, and enter this field for the love of animals, not to get rich. Other risks in this career include its physical demand, and chance of burn out. Lifting 150 lb dogs under general anesthesia on a regular basis can be hard on the body if not done properly. As can restraining a large animal that may startle unexpectedly. I've known techs who have had to permanently leave their jobs because of slipped disks. On the other hand, I also know tiny techs who regularly carry bags of food and pets near their own body weight without a second thought. Veterinary technicians are often much stronger than they appear, but accidents do happen.
Emotions are generally running high on a day to day basis and can be like a roller-coaster. One moment you may be asked to assist with the euthanasia of a beloved pet, the next you may be expected to put on a happy face for the discharge of an animal who recovered from a life threatening illness. It is true that you "get used to it", but is that really the case? I know I'm certainly not used to it, I tend to just suppress those negative feelings until, one day, they all come flooding out. I am, slowly, learning this and the most important thing for me now is working with a team who are all on the same page. We're all in this together and if we don't help and support each other, fights and misery ensue. Every single death, recovery and standstill takes me on the ride of my life. Who needs Grey's Anatomy when you're living it? Without appropriate outlets and support to deal with these emotions, burnout and job dissatisfaction can be the result.
It used to be thought, and sometimes still is, that working with animals is easier than working with people, and that a career in the veterinary industry excludes having to work with people. On the contrary, a lot of the veterinary technician’s time is spent advising and counseling pet owners and co-workers. This may include having to teach an owner how to give insulin to their newly diagnosed diabetic cat, motivating a dog owner to continue with a diet plan, or simply being a shoulder to cry on for a staff member who has had a rough day. It is these interactions that increase the bond and trust between pet owner and veterinary staff to be more than just clients, but also friends and a team to advocate for the pet’s health.
The best vet techs recognize these challenges, but focus on the best things their jobs have to offer. These are the "super-techs" of our profession, not the ones who can multi-task their way through a full day on their own and survive to tell the tale, but the ones who stay positive, motivated and support their team.
Until Next Time,