Veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants both work in animal hospitals and clinics, but that is where the similarities between these two careers end. They differ in both their job duties and in their education and training requirements. While assistants need only a high school or equivalency diploma, technicians must complete a two-year veterinary technology training program. In addition to their formal training, they usually need a state-issued license.
Most technicians are certified — the Certified Pharmacy Technician (CPhT) is earned by passing the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE) — and have completed several hundred hours of on-the-job training in order to be able to work with different prescription drugs, understand pharmacy operations and protocol, and abide by ethical standards. Basic job duties include dosing medications and filling prescription orders, taking care of administrative tasks, and handling basic customer service duties at the counter. Some pharmacy techs lead a team of pharmacy staff members as a lead pharmacy technician. Others may be responsible for managing supply and inventory or providing pertinent information to other healthcare professionals.
1. Become a CVPP. When you become a certified veterinary pain practitioner (CVPP), your hospital benefits from a trained and well-educated technician in the field of pain management. While most hospitals are now practicing higher levels of pain control, there’s still much we can do to ensure our patients receive the highest level of pain management possible. (Check out the CVC for great continuing education on pain management topics.)
If your pet is to have lab tests run, such as a check for heartworm, a Complete Blood Count (CBC), or a check for parasites, it will be the veterinary technician who takes the appropriate samples and using high tech instruments will document the results for the veterinarian's interpretation. When further testing is required, such as X-rays, the veterinary technician will take the X-rays and deliver them to the veterinarian.
While the majority of veterinary technicians are employed in private practice, the demand for technicians is rapidly expanding to include new employment opportunities in human and animal health-related areas and specialties such as military service, food safety inspection, teaching, zoo animal and wildlife care, diagnostic laboratory support, veterinary supply sales, animal control and humane society animal care, and drug and feed company technical service and sales.
Technicians work in a variety of settings, including laboratories, processing plants, farms and ranches, greenhouses, and offices. Technicians who work in processing plants and agricultural settings may face noise from processing and farming machinery, extreme temperatures, and odors from chemicals or animals. They may need to lift and carry objects, and be physically active for long periods of time.
They help during patient examinations and surgical procedures by restraining animals when necessary, stocking examination and surgery rooms with supplies, sterilizing tools and ensuring that equipment is in working order. Veterinary technicians also communicate with pet owners and update patient files. Veterinary technicians often work Saturdays and may be on call in some facilities 24 hours a day.
A pharmacy technician is a health care provider who performs pharmacy-related functions, generally working under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of locations (usually in community, retail, and hospital pharmacies), but can also work for long-term care facilities, pharmaceutical manufacturers, third-party insurance companies, computer software companies, or in government or teaching. Job duties include dispensing prescription drugs and other medical devices to patients and instructing on their use. They may also perform administrative duties in pharmaceutical practice, such as reviewing prescription requests with doctor's offices and insurance companies to ensure correct medications are provided and payment is received.
In honor of National Veterinary Technicians Week, Vetstreet is doing a series of articles that highlight the work of these veterinary professionals who play such a vital role in the well being of our pets. Our first piece, by Dr. Marty Becker, Time To Sing Out for Vet Techs, the Unsung Heroes of Animal Care, talks about some of the ways that vet techs take care of both human clients and animal ones. In this article, we cover more of the nuts and bolts of the important role.
There's ample need for pharmaceutical support professionals capable of filling prescription medications quickly and efficiently. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth of about 12 percent between 2016 and 2026 – faster than the average growth rate for all occupations – and during that period, 47,600 new positions will need to be filled. "There's a tremendous amount of demand as the baby boomer population is aging and taking more and more medications, and with all the new prescription drugs that are being approved and consumed by Americans, there is a great amount of growth and increase in the pharmacy sector," Johnston says.
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.
The median annual wage for pharmacy technicians in 2014 was $29,810, although this varies by state. Pharmacy technicians in Washington, Alaska, California, Hawaii and Oregon are the highest earners, on average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the highest-paying positions are available with federal, state and local government agencies, outpatient care centers, and scientific research and development organizations. Pharmacy techs that work in department stores and health and personal care stores typically make lower annual wages.
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.
At Ryder, being a technician is about more than working on some of the highest quality vehicles in the business. It’s about mentorship and being trained and certified in the most recent technologies. It’s about working on a variety of vehicle models, brands, and types. But most importantly, it’s about having the chance to advance in your career, while experiencing the responsibility, compensation, and learning environment that only Ryder can offer.