Veterinarians would be lost, no, we would be nothing, without veterinary technicians. We would be sad, lonely, tired, overwhelmed, and totally broke.
As I was working today, a very busy Saturday, I walked out of exam room after exam room to see my technicians scurrying by handling a mega-pile of tasks. Draw the blood, catch the urine, run the tests, radiograph the pet, give the fluids, trim the nails, present the treatment plan, count the pills, and call the client. One crabby gentleman even threw paperwork and spoke in a very nasty fashion to one of my kindest, most gentle technicians as she was explaining a treatment plan. She handled it with grace and poise.
How can we honor these rock stars of the veterinary world?
Love and Respect Their Experience
Some veterinarians think that they are smarter than their technicians because they went to college longer than their technicians. Most technician programs are 2-year programs, however much of the technician learning is done hands on. They learn most of what they do by actually dealing with animals whereas the veterinarian does most of our learning in a classroom. Also, often times your veterinary technician has many more years of experience than you do. Your technician has also worked with multiple veterinarians allowing them exposure to many different ways of doing things that you are not always privy to. When a technician questions you about your assessment, treatment, or the status of your patient, it would be wise to listen to them with an open mind. They may just save you from a costly mistake.
Love and Respect Their Teaching Ability
Most of the technicians that I have worked with over the years are vastly more patient than I am, and much more thorough when teaching a client different aspects of patient care when they are properly trained in nutrition, training, puppy socialization, parasite prevention, and medication techniques. They are friendly, open, honest, and able to talk to a client on the level that they need to understand many issues surrounding their pet’s care. Not to say that doctors are not great educators, but when you are in the middle of a packed schedule and many patients are occupying your time, we often are forced to rush through the client education “stuff”. That is when I call “super technician to the rescue!” The client will get a much better education than they will get from me.
Love and Allow Them to Be Who They Are
I work with 10 technicians on a daily basis and each one is unique and special. I have one that loves inventory ordering and monitoring, one that loves to handle the schedules, one that is a top-notch repair and maintenance woman, one that loves working with the practice management software, and one that is a master at social media. One hates surgery, one hates running exam rooms, one loves exotic pets, one loves rabbits, one loves dog training. They are all super talented in all areas, but are super productive in the areas that they like. The best thing that I can do as a veterinary leader is to assign them to the areas which they excel. Honoring their unique talents makes for a happier work environment and a more efficient hospital.
October hosts veterinary technician week, but I say every day should be “love your technician day” or all of us veterinarians would be terribly exhausted and extremely sad.
Cheers to Shelley, Carolyn, Deanna, Beth, Nicole, Sam, Dawn, Jessica, Jackie and Becky – my amazing technician team.
Please share your best veterinary technician story to honor those who really run our veterinary hospitals.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the DrAndyRoark.com editorial team.
Dr. Julie Cappel works as a small animal and exotic pet veterinarian, leadership and life coach. She has been a practice owner for over 20 years running a four doctor veterinary practice in Warren, Michigan. Dr. Cappel has studied leadership, employee relations, personality profiling, business management and has a strong grasp on interpersonal relationships and work life balance. She has served on multiple veterinary committees, school boards and was an executive committee member for the Southeastern Michigan Veterinary Medical Association serving as their president in 2006. She has also served on the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association executive board serving as their president in 2015, and continues to work as an advisor for the MVMA “A team” and on several committees.