Veterinary technologists and technicians must complete a postsecondary program in veterinary technology. In 2016, there were 221 veterinary technology programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Most of these programs offer a 2-year associate’s degree for veterinary technicians. Twenty-one colleges offer a 4-year bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology.
As a laboratory technician on assignment with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) you might manage the laboratory associated with a tuberculosis treatment program, training the technicians you supervise in sputum microscopy. Alternatively, you might find yourself tasked with establishing a laboratory facility, introducing quality control to an HIV laboratory, or testing people for sleeping sickness in an outdoor mobile clinic.
As nurses are to doctors, veterinary technicians are to veterinarians. They assist vets in diagnosing and treating animals in private clinics, animal hospitals, and research facilities. This job title is often used interchangeably with "veterinary technologist," and although there are some differences between the two occupations, they are minor. Vet techs, as they are often called, may supervise veterinary assistants.
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Pharmacy technicians who work in retail or mail-order pharmacies have various responsibilities, depending on state rules and regulations. Technicians receive written prescription requests from patients and perform medication reconciliation. They also may receive prescriptions sent electronically from doctors’ offices, and in some states they are permitted to process requests by phone. They must verify that the information on the prescription is complete and accurate. To prepare the prescription, technicians retrieve, count, pour, weigh, measure, and sometimes mix the medication. Then they prepare the prescription labels, select the type of container, and affix the prescription and auxiliary labels to the container. Once the prescription is filled, technicians price and file the prescription, which must be checked by a pharmacist before it is given to the patient. Technicians may establish and maintain patient profiles, as well as prepare insurance claim forms. Technicians always refer any questions regarding prescriptions, drug information, or health matters to a pharmacist.
Pharmacy technicians’ primary responsibility is dispensing prescription medication, which requires great attention to detail. Pharmacy techs must be able to measure, mix, dose and dispense appropriate amounts of medication based on the pharmacist’s orders. They may also be involved with data entry tasks to update patient records and fill prescription orders.
Houston Community College’s Certificate-level Veterinary Assistant program is based at their campus in the city of Houston, TX. Most of the school’s 58,276 students are on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. The cost of tuition for in-district students is likely to be around $1,632 and are $3,360 and $3,756 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Learning materials may cost around $3,000, although this will vary with the program.
Some veterinary technicians decide to specialize in a certain area. According to the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA), an academy is a group of veterinary technicians who have received formal, specialized training, testing and certification in an area. The recognized academies include specialties in dental technology, anesthesia, internal medicine, emergency and critical care, behavior, zoological medicine, and equine veterinary nursing.
Pharmacy technicians are entry-level personnel that work in many different pharmacy settings within the health care industry. They assist the pharmacist as the right-hand person in many different pharmacy practice settings. One of the main duties of a pharmacy technician are to enter patient data and information into the computer system to process prescriptions. They are also responsible for dispensing commercially available medication, compounding specialty orders, and/or preparing intravenous medications.
Practical training, such as completing an internship in a pharmacy, is also often required as part of training for employment as a pharmacy technician. Many employers favor pharmacy technicians to be certified with a national or local pharmacy board, such as by passing a standard exam and/or paying a fee. In the United States, voluntary certification is available through many private organizations. Elsewhere, such as in Tanzania and the United Kingdom, pharmacy technicians are required to be registered with the national regulatory council.
Pharmacy technicians work under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist and perform many pharmacy-related functions. They refer any questions regarding prescriptions, drug information, or health matters to a pharmacist. Pharmacy techs work in a wide variety of practice settings, including community pharmacies, hospitals, the military, in-home health care settings, long term care facilities, mail service pharmacies, managed health care organizations, and educational programs.
A mail-order pharmacy tech finds herself in a more office-like environment, filling prescriptions from a workstation amidst many other techs. The day of a mail-order pharmacy tech might start with meetings with pharmacists and other techs, from there, duties might include preparing compounds, maintaining the patient database, filling vials of medicine and inventory maintenance. Just because a mail-order tech is behind-the-scenes and doesn’t deal directly with the public it does not mean that their jobs are easy.
Communication skills are often emphasized so that prospective veterinary technicians can connect with pet owners and work efficiently with veterinarians. However, some classes are needed to satisfy general education requirements in the humanities as well as the basic sciences. Once students have earned their associate's degree, they might be ready to sit for national and state examinations administered by the state veterinary medical board.
In addition to the responsibilities above, veterinary technicians employed in a biomedical research facility perform other duties under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian, a biomedical research worker, or other scientist, such as supervising the humane care and handling of research animals and assisting in the implementation of research projects.
Texas A & M University’s Bachelor-level Animal Science program is offered at their Kingsville campus in the town of Kingsville, Texas. This is a full, 4-year public college with 13,246 students, of which 74% are undergraduates. Tuition fees for in-state students are generally around $7,700 and for out-of-state students likely to be about $20,191 yearly, while books and supplies may cost about $1,344, although this varies from program to program.
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