Why I Chose to be a Veterinary Technician
Often when I meet people for the first time and they discover that I am a Certified Veterinary Technician, the first question they ask upon hearing my job is: Do I plan on becoming a veterinarian? Or, did I want to be a vet? The short answer is: Nope.
I know that people are well intentioned in their interest of my job, but I wonder if they understand that by assuming I want to be a veterinarian they are discrediting my career choice (and I bet that I am not the only CVT who feels this way). I also wonder if our human counterparts in the medical world (i.e., nurses) get this type of question when discussing their career with new people? I would imagine that they get that question far less than veterinary technicians, who are essentially animal nurses.
My choice to become a vet tech was an educated one. I wanted a job that kept me busy and challenged me on a daily basis. I’ve always loved animals and have great empathy for them and their well-being, but it takes more than a fondness of furry creatures to be a career veterinary technician. I say ‘career’ because the sad truth is that most graduates of a veterinary technology program do not stay in the field for long (the average time working as a CVT is 5 years). In addition to my love of animals, I loved science, biology, anatomy and physiology. For me, those interests put me on the path for a career in veterinary medicine.
But WHY wouldn’t I want to become a veterinarian you ask? It seems like if you love animals you should WANT to be a DVM, but I did not have that desire. I wanted to provide the nursing care, collect the blood samples, run the lab work, use the microscope, place the IV catheters, monitor anesthesia, perform the ‘hands-on’ tasks with the patients. My job keeps me engaged and my duties can change daily depending on the needs of the animals I am caring for.
Another aspect of my job that I enjoy is connecting with the clients; addressing their concerns, answering questions, demonstrating how to give medications, or providing reassurances when their pet is ill or injured. When you first start out as a vet tech you do not realize initially how much of your job is actually working directly with people and not just the cats and dogs.
In summary, I love being a veterinary technician. Would I love my job if I was a veterinarian? I don’t know. DVMs and CVTs are complimentary, we work toward the common goal of increasing the well-being of our patients, there are times when our responsibilities overlap but we are not interchangeable. Veterinarians examine, diagnose, prognose, prescribe and perform surgery; all things that a CVT cannot do. But that does not mean that being a technician is ‘less than.’ It is a different job with a different skill set. I have heard some CVTs refer to themselves as ‘just’ a technician. But we are not ‘just a technician,’ we are a vital part of the veterinary medical team and we should be proud of our career choice.
Katie, BS, AAS, LVT
Patient Care Technician