Professionalism in Veterinary Technology

As a vet tech, your patients rely on you for competent care.

As a vet tech, your patients rely on you for competent care.

If you love caring for animals, a career as a veterinary technologist might be right up your alley. Working as a veterinary technologist is similar to employment as a nurse in human medicine. The role entails a high degree of professionalism, as you're responsible for the well-being of your animal patients.

Veterinary Technology Education

In order to become a veterinary technician, you must graduate from a two-year course from an American Veterinary Medical Association-accredited institution of higher learning. Becoming a veterinary technologist requires a four-year, baccalaureate degree. In either case, the college or university should conduct much of the instruction in laboratory settings as well as clinically with live animals. Graduates should become members of national and state vet tech associations, keeping up with new developments in the field and continuing education.

Veterinary Technology Duties

Veterinary technicians provide "professional support to veterinarians," according to the AVMA. As a vet tech, you assist the veterinarian in a variety of ways. Your duties also depend on the type of practice. Veterinary medicine consists primarily of dog and cat, equine, livestock and exotic practices. Veterinary technologists assist veterinarians during surgical procedures, monitor anesthesia, care for and monitor postoperative patients and perform intubations, provide fluid therapy, take blood samples and do similar routine nursing work. They must keep careful records of their patients.

Code of Ethics

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians code of ethics calls for "providing excellent care and services for animals"; protecting client confidentiality; committing to learning in the field; relieving and preventing suffering with compassion; promoting public health in control of zoonotic diseases -- those passed from animals to people -- and upholding any laws regarding the tech's responsibility as part of the veterinary team. The code also contains a proviso that technicians shall "safeguard the public and profession" against those who don't exhibit professional ethics or competence.

Veterinary Technology Limitations

Part of veterinary technologist professionalism is knowing your limitations. As experienced as you might be with animals, you're not a veterinarian. You can't diagnose a patient, prescribe medications or perform operations. That also means you must follow a veterinarian's directives, even if you disagree with them. You must comply with all federal, state and local regulations concerning animal care and humane husbandry.

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About the Author

Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.

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