A veterinary technician or vet tech is someone who assists in providing health care to animals. They typically work under the supervision of a veterinarian to provide diagnosis, treatment, and preventative care for pets, farm animals, wildlife, and other animals. The goal of most vet tech training programs is to prepare students to become certified veterinary technicians.
There are many types of vet tech training available, so people who desire a career in that field have many options to choose from. To become certified or licensed, a candidate must pass a state licensing exam. There is a core set of knowledge that is required to pass these exams, and it's important for people wanting to become a certified vet tech to choose a program that understands the requirements and provides the necessary courses for proper exam preparation.
Whether the program is an 18-month certificate program or a four-year degree program, students must acquire the basic knowledge and skills to perform the required duties of a typical vet tech. Preliminary classes should provide a foundation in general anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology. After acquiring that core knowledge, students will take classes to learn the specific diagnostic and treatment procedures that are required of a typical technician.
To better assist a veterinarian, or other animal health care practitioner, students will learn basic exam room skills such as interacting with animals, proper restraining techniques, administering medications, and examination routines. Students will also learn how to give vaccinations, intravenous injections, toenail clipping, ear cleaning, and other procedures.
Veterinary technicians are valuable laboratory assistants. Techs must know how to draw blood or collect urine specimens. They must learn laboratory procedures such as fecal exams for worms, blood diagnostics such as blood counts, hemoglobin measurements, and urinalysis. Students must also become proficient at microbiology techniques such as microorganism cultures and parasite identification.
Vet tech training should also include radiology procedures. Students will learn how to take, develop, and read x-rays. Technicians will also learn surgical techniques for assisting in the operating room. They'll learn about surgical anesthesia as well as proper post-operative care. Wound care and bandaging techniques are also vital components of vet tech training.
One of the most important parts of vet tech training is hands-on experience. A well-rounded curriculum will consist of work with real patients. Some programs are associated with an animal hospital where students get real-life experience under the tutelage of a veterinarian. Most programs require students to participate in an internship or externship where they work with veterinarians in a clinic, hospital, or other animal health care environment.
When choosing a course of study, it's important to choose an accredited school or program. Accreditation is granted by a third-party veterinary regulatory board such as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Such schools provide the core courses as outlined above, as well as licensing exam preparation to help you become certified. Many schools also provide job-placement assistance after graduation.