A Day in the Life of a Veterinary Technician

A lot of people ask me if I like my job and my answer is I LOVE it!! I began volunteering at the Park Road Veterinary Clinic in Brantford 25 years ago as a high school co-op student. I loved working with the animals and I must have done a good job because I was hired on after co-op finished and became kennel help and assistant to the groomer. I even stretched out my high school years so I could work half days at the clinic. Once I finished high school I went on to college to be a Veterinary Technician. It was only a 2 year course but A LOT of information to learn in 2 years. I remember having to stay for evening classes and some weekends for kennel and barn duties. At times we would have 12 courses going on at the same time, we would have to learn about all species of animals such as cats, dogs, rodents, goats, pigs, horses, sheep etc. We needed to know their anatomy, common illnesses, the medications used to treat them and reproduction. It was the first time in my life I was easily able to absorb so much information because it was so interesting to me.

In 1995 I graduated Ridgetown College with honours from the Veterinary Technology program. Initially I tried a couple other veterinary clinics just to see what other places were like, but in the end I wanted to be back at Park Road because it felt like home. The staff are like family – many of us have been here for years and we work very well together. Sure we get on each others nerves like any family does, but when there is trouble we band together and take on any challenge that comes our way.

So as a technician, my typical day starts by admitting surgeries in the morning. With the owner I discuss the procedure being done, often recommending blood work be done in clinic that morning to help ensure all goes smoothly. The surgeries are then given a full exam by the veterinarian before we give the anesthetic. I now become the “anesthetist” for the duration of the surgery and post-op. I continually monitor heart rate, respiration rate, temperature, blood pressure and the anesthetic depth and adjust if needed. After I recover the pet he/she is moved to one of the recovery kennels with lots of bedding and heat. These kennels are located just outside the surgical suite so they can continually be monitored throughout the day. We continue this process until all surgeries are done. Often there will be lab work  to be done on blood, feces,  urine, ear swabs or skin scrapings. We have various equipment to help us look for any abnormalities in the samples that might indicate a disease or any other reason for illness. So in between surgeries I become “lab technician”. Once I have results I report them to the veterinarian in charge of the patient.

As a technician you must learn to prioritize your duties and multi-task efficiently. If a life threatening emergency or sick animal is brought in, they take priority over surgeries or anything else I am doing. In this role I am now a “triage nurse” and “emergency room nurse”. I will put in IV catheters, set animals up on IV fluids, give medications, and/or bandaging if needed. If the animal needs x rays I become the “radiology technician”. In the x ray room I measure the area to be xrayed and set the x ray machine to take optimal images, line up the x ray beam to the area of interest and take the picture. Once x rays have been processed the veterinarian in charge will review them.

My day continues like this, juggling technician appointments which are often blood draws, nail trims, nutritional consults and vaccine boosters, with lab work, x rays and tending to sick animals. It is never a boring moment, there is always something to do and at the end of the day when you go home knowing you helped prevent an illness or helped a sick animal and their distraught owner it’s all worth it.