Veterinary technicians must have excellent communication skills, so that they may interact with pet owners and coworkers. They must have an understanding of animal behavior and strong clinical skills in order to properly evaluate an animal's condition and provide treatment. They must be detail-oriented and well-organized so that they may take medical histories, carry out instructions, document patient statistics and update records. It's also essential that they enjoy working with animals and have the ability to comfort, handle and restrain large and small pets.
As you come into the hospital, it may be the veterinary technician who greets you and your pet and escorts you to the exam room. There the technician may listen and make notes while you describe the reason for your pet's visit. S/he may give your pet a physical exam -- look at the pet's eyes and ears, listen to the heart, and take the temperature. All of this information will be passed along to the veterinarian for their evaluation.
Students interested in a more comprehensive educational experience can enroll in a pharmacy technician associate degree program. Although a degree is not required to apply for entry-level positions, some students choose to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree so they can advance in their careers and apply for jobs as a compounding lab technician, pharmacy service technician, pharmacy implementation specialist or similar roles. Earning an associate degree can also help a student prepare for a Bachelor of Pharmacy or a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
There are primarily two levels of education and training for entry to this occupation—a 2-year program for veterinary technicians and a 4-year program for veterinary technologists. Most entry-level veterinary technicians have a 2-year degree, usually an associate degree, from an accredited community college program in veterinary technology, in which courses are taught in clinical and laboratory settings using live animals. A few colleges offer veterinary technology programs that are longer and that may culminate in a 4-year bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology. These 4-year colleges, in addition to some vocational schools, also offer 2-year programs in laboratory animal science. Search for schools that provide training for this career.
Your formal training will include laboratory and clinical work with live animals. If you are a high school student who is interested in this field, make sure to take science classes such as biology, as well as math classes. You should also consider volunteering at a veterinarian's office or an animal shelter, where you can get experience and find out if you enjoy working in this environment.
A. Skills covered in the Veterinary Technician Associate Degree Program include fundamentals of pharmacy and pharmacology, nursing, anesthesia, surgical nursing, labroratory procedures, imaging, laboratory animal procedures, avian, exotic, small mammal, and fish procedures, and other veterinary basics. College level courses also build a well-rounded skill set in areas such as computer and information literacy, written and interpersonal skills, humanities, liberal arts, math, and sciences.
There are many scopes of the workplace for the Certified Pharmacy Technician. In a retail setting, a CPhT works under the direct supervision of a pharmacist who dispenses prescription medication (tablets, capsules, gels, ointment, creams, suspensions, injections, and inhalation medications), and must be familiar with over-the-counter areas as well as third party insurance billing processes. In an inpatient setting, the CPhT works throughout the hospital, packing and dispensing medications in satellite pharmacies and to the various nursing units; compounding intravenous medication while using aseptic technique; narcotic medication dispensing and inventorial procedures; as well as documenting patients' weight, height, drug allergies and other needed information in medication records.
Veterinary assistants support the veterinarian and/or the veterinary technician in their daily tasks. The assistant may be asked to perform kennel work, assist in the restraint and handling of animals, feed and exercise the animals, or spend time on clerical duties. There are training programs for veterinary assistants, and some are trained on the job. At this time, there is no credentialing exam for veterinary assistants.
Since you’ll be required to work with computers, software and financial transactions in your dealings with the public, learning some accounting principles—specifically billing and reimbursement—will come in handy. Consider taking a mathematics course. Understanding patient maintenance software, pharmaceutical software and prescription processing software will also give you an advantage. Learn about data management and take a course in Microsoft Excel to further give yourself an edge.
Attending a postsecondary education program with an emphasis in pharmacy technology is helpful but not required. Vocational schools and community colleges offer these programs, which usually last one year or less. They might teach mathematics commonly applied in pharmacies and help familiarize students with the names, uses and doses of medications. Best practices for dispensing medications, as well as pharmacy law and ethics, will also be covered. Some training programs include internships that allow students to obtain hands-on experience.
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.