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Question for Vet Techs

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I love animals, always have. I have always been the “freak” friend of my friends who would go out of my way to save a stray or wildlife. In my world… and most of yours its natural but I’m sure you’ve all experienced the weird looks of people who don’t understand our animal loving ways.

I made a decision the other day. I am going back to school to take a Veterinary Technician course. I was going to do this back when I graduated high school but the salary turned me against it (sheesh! I was surprised and still am at the low pay). Now that I am older I am realizing while money is really nice, happiness and wanting to wake up for work is much nicer.

So my question to all you Veterinary Technicians out there. Do you like your job? Why did you want to become a Vet Tech? Do you have side jobs? Is it too hard emotionally seeing animals in pain? Do you feel that you are doing good for animal? Anything else you can add that you have experienced?

Thanks!
post #2 of 9
I'm going to reply to this because I've just enrolled on a Vet tech course - rather it's vet. assisting - but it amounts to pretty much the same thing over here. I finally figured out what I wanted to do at the end of last year and it's such a relief to finally know where I'm going. In the job I'm in just now, I co-operate closely with a vet and the vet tech, because I'm their "wild cat handler" (that's about the closest I can get to my actual job description) and I think I've seen more or less everything - from the completely mangled, the dead and diseased to perfectly healthy looking cats that unfortunately test positive for FeV. Once you've seen those go through, you can pretty much handle anything. It does come as a shock to the system the first time around... but it's a learning curve. Steep... true, but it's worth it. At the end of the day, no matter what happens, you can console yourself with the fact that any animals you have treated during the day - weather through surgery, medication or euthanasia - those animals aren't suffering any more. And that's worth more than the pay-check at the end of the month.

I'm hoping I can be done with my course in the next year/year and a half - I'm trying at the moment to scaff an internship somewhere.

fab work going back to school hun, I reall yhope it goes well for you! You and I can collaborate as well if you feel like it
post #3 of 9
I'm a vet tech. The pay definitely stinks, but since i work for Animal Control i get a lot high pay than i would at most vets offices.

Our shelter vet is only in one day a week- so just about all of the medical responsibilities fall on me. It's a tough job. You have to get comfortable with needles/blood/ and sadly, death. You are going to see things that you never want to see and horrible things that have been done to animals- it can be heartbreaking at times. But the thing to remember is - they need you to help them and your work makes all the difference in their lives. Being a vet tech truely saves lives every single day.

It likely depends on where you work- but i know for me, i get stuck working every weekend and every holiday. You work long hours and often have to stay late when things get busy or you have emergencies or call outs. If you get a job at a vets office though you may be able to get better hours. Also- a lot of places do not offer full benifits/etc so you really have to shop around for a good job with decient pay/benifits/hours.

If you're looking at classes for the vet tech thing- you may want to look into becomming a euthanazia technician as well. It might not sound so appealing, however it is a necessary job. It goes hand in hand and if you wind up working for somewhere like Animal Control vs. a vets office- you HAVE to in be able to put down animals who are suffering greatly or are very aggressive. If our shelter had to wait until one day a week for our vet to be in to put down animals- it would cease to run.

One thing i would suggest- take an Animal CPR class- it will help you a lot with some of the very basics. Also one thing to always remember- muzzling a dog will NOT stop them from biting you, it will only slow them down- so always be cautious when you're working and learn how to properly hold them for procedures/tests/etc.

As far as cats go- squeeze cages are your best friends! Use them!

As far as extra income goes- i'm a lisenced florist (got my design lisence the summer i turned 18) so i do that on the side for extra $ when i want to. Fortunately though i am married, so my combined income with my husbands isn't so bad.

As far as it being a hard job emotionally- it's incredably hard. This is probably the most difficult, heart breaking job i've ever had. You deal with cruel people, suffering animals, animals who have been abused, abandoned, and nobody cares for....you see the worst of the worst working where i work. It's heart breaking, i will not lie because you asked the truth about it. There are some days when i walk past the kennels and see some dogs who have been there for months and then i'll walk past another cage and see another one who doesn't understand why it's been abandoned....it makes me want to cry sometimes, but you have to remember that you're there to help them and breaking down won't benifit the animals or you. You have to be tough.

As far as some other things go- learn as much as you can about feline/canine diseases. A lot of the ones you would think are perfectly healthy can often be hiding pretty bad diseases. One outbreak can wipe out an entire office full of animals or shelter full if it's bad. Always, Always wash your hands, and spray your clothes/shoes down between each animal you touch. It only takes one mistake to spread something.

Oh yea- get some good, comfortable shoes! You'll likely be on your feet most of the day so make sure you're comfortable. (i personally like SAS shoes- they're not exactly cute, but they don't hurt my feet).

Also- always keep a small bottle of mace/pepper spray in your pocket. It only takes a split second to have dog come after you and try to bite- it will be your best defense- that and your legs- if you should ever need to get an attacking animal off of you - do not be afraid to kick ( aim for the rib cage- it sounds horrible i'm sure- but you'll understand if you ever have one come after you) and make loud, distracting noises. Learn how to deflect situations like that.

When you go to school- learn how to draw blood from multiple areas. Sometimes when an animal's blood pressure is very low- you can't hit a good leg vein, so it might be necessary to hit a jugular vein or under the tougne.

Also, get in the habit of ALWAYS putting the rabies vaccine on the right side of the shoulder blade- that should be the only vaccine given in that area. This is so you can watch for side effects and know which vaccine caused what if there's a resulting reaction or tumor. Now as far as other vaccines go- you may be tought differently than me- some vets prefer dogs get some of the other ones in the front left side (same on cats) others the back right hip. You'll need to learn how to administer heart worm treatments as well -so definitely pay attention to the different techniques when you're in class.

As far as cats go- always check the ears before sending them off- ear mites are amazingly common and can make a cat plain miserable- so you want to make sure you learn how to properly clean ears. You want to use a different technique cleaning cats ears vs. a lab or another flop eared dog. Cats ears are much more sensitive and it's easy to puncture an ear drum.

Also, learn how to use a catch pole and rabies pole- they are your friends! You will appreciate them should you ever have to use them. (they are designed to be humane, yet to keep the animal a safe distance away from you in an emergency.

Humm i'm sure i'm forgetting so much, but just pm me if you have any questions!
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Great!! Thanks so much guys. I am having a bit of trouble with my decision since I know myself, and I am extremely sensitive to animal pain and suffering. I cry at animal cruelty commercials and have to change the channel. BUT on the other hand I have always been a very tough chick so I think ill be fine in class but as soon as I go home I’m going to cry like a little girl all night for the first bit.

You guys have helped me though, I think the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping these little babies out is enough to endure some serious sadness and mental anguish. I feel better in my decision now.

Thanks!
post #5 of 9
I'm a receptionist, but I help out occasionally with some tech things.

One thing to consider: Being a tech can be physically demanding - it often involves lifting heavy animals and holding them in awkward positions (awkward for you, not for the animal). If you have back or knee issues, you may want to think twice about it.

Another simple thing that can help make your day go smoothly: Always keep extra scrubs around because you may get peed (or pooped) on, and it's nice to have something to change into.
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxedokitties View Post
I'm a receptionist, but I help out occasionally with some tech things.

One thing to consider: Being a tech can be physically demanding - it often involves lifting heavy animals and holding them in awkward positions (awkward for you, not for the animal). If you have back or knee issues, you may want to think twice about it.

Another simple thing that can help make your day go smoothly: Always keep extra scrubs around because you may get peed (or pooped) on, and it's nice to have something to change into.
Those are some VERY good things i forgot to mention!!!

A lot of places say that there is a requirement of being able to lift at least 50lbs.....but i've lifted much more than that. You have to. You have to be able to hold animals down and restrain them, get them up on the tables and prep them, and when one is put down you have to be able to dispose of their bodies- this means putting them in a bag and being able to lift them into a freezer until they can be disposed of. We got everything from goats to deer at our shelter working for AC- so that's definitely a lot of weight. Usually you have another person to help- but even then, learning how to properly lift (with your knees) and how to try and prevent an injury is good.

I second the extra change of clothes - i always have extra in the trunk of my car as well as extra socks/shoes and gloves. You'll need it!
post #7 of 9
I recently decided I'd like to be a vet tech too but there is no school around here to go to for that. There is one a couple hours away but they only accept like 40 out of over 600 people a year.
post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by catlover19 View Post
I recently decided I'd like to be a vet tech too but there is no school around here to go to for that. There is one a couple hours away but they only accept like 40 out of over 600 people a year.
Many veterinary clinics/hospitals will hire inexperienced people to start out working as kennel personnel and/or as tech assistants. With experience and on-the-job training, you can usually move up to work as a technician. Many technicians working in clinics are not RVTs. It's great to go to school if you get the opportunity, but it's not generally a set-in-stone requirement to gain employment in the veterinary field.
post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by silvionc View Post
...Now that I am older I am realizing while money is really nice, happiness and wanting to wake up for work is much nicer...

An extremely insightful statement, and what a brave decision you've made! This thought has crossed my mind, too, but where you've decided to go ahead with it because of all the good you can do for the animals, I decided not to, because of all the personal heartbreak it would bring. Your courage humbles me.
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