Texas is a huge employer of veterinary technicians, leading the country with approximately 8,870 vet techs as of 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Furthermore, the profession is growing rapidly in the state, with a 27.6 percent projected job growth rate between 2012 and 2022. This could equate to an increase of nearly 2,500 jobs by 2022. [Leer en español]
The scientific aspects of the job aren't the only things that vet techs need to prepare for, however. Tear says the hardest part of working as a technician is dealing with the relatively short lifespan of animals. “Our patients live anywhere from five to 15 years,” she says, “so there’s quite a bit of grief.” Another challenge is getting by on the salary, which, on average, skews quite a bit lower than comparable jobs in human medicine. “This isn’t a career you go into for the money," Tear adds.
As the job description expands, career opportunities increase, and the outlook for employment as a pharmacy technician is very strong. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current Occupational Outlook Handbook, with a large percentage of the population aging the field is expected to increase by 12 percent through 2026, which is faster than average. This means that now is an excellent time to become a pharmacy technician. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
Weatherford College’s Certificate-level Veterinary Assisting program is taught at their campus in the town of Weatherford, TX. This public college has approximately 5,613 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Fees for tuition for in-district students are roughly about $2,400 and are $3,720 and $5,280 for in-state and out-of-state students respectively. Study materials can cost roughly $1,200, depending on the program chosen.
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.)
A pharmacy technician diploma or certificate program can be completed in one year or less and provides the basic education and training needed to sit for the Certified Pharmacy Technician exam. These programs introduce students to basic concepts in pharmaceutical technology, record keeping, pharmacy law and ethics, and pharmacology. They typically include a combination of classroom learning and lab training so that students learn how to dispense medication, prepare sterile products, and manage prescription orders.
Veterinary technologists and technicians handle lab work, radiology, nursing care, surgery assistance and dozens of other tasks related to animal health care. "We do everything except diagnose, prescribe and do surgery," says Julie Legred, a veterinary technician and executive director at the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America. They often work in private clinics and animal hospitals, assisting veterinarians with the care of animals. While the job might sound like a lot of fun, Legred is quick to point out that "it's not just holding puppies." She adds, "You're not going to make a lot of money, you have to pick up poo and you get peed on." In other words, the work isn't glamorous, so only those with a real commitment to animal care tend to stay in the field.
In early 2017, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) held a national stakeholder meeting to develop industrywide consensus on qualifications and standards for advanced practice and entry-level technicians.4 Attendees drafted recommendations for the advanced practice certification, education, entry-level requirements, and regulation of technicians. As a result of this meeting, the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and the PTCB have implemented more stringent and uniform requirements regarding certification, education, and continuing education for technicians, with new standards for ACPE accreditation and PTCB certification taking effect in January 2019 and January 2020, respectively.5,6 The PTCB has also developed a second certification program focused specifically on sterile compounding.7
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.
Formal pharmacy-technician education programs require classroom and laboratory work in a variety of areas, including medical and pharmaceutical terminology, pharmaceutical calculations, pharmacy recordkeeping, pharmaceutical techniques, and pharmacy law and ethics. Technicians also are required to learn medication names, actions, uses, and doses. Many training programs include internships, in which students gain hands-on experience in actual pharmacies. Students receive a diploma, certificate, or an associate degree, depending on the program.
In recent times, pharmacy technicians also speak directly with the patients on the phone to aid in the awareness of taking medications on time. In many countries, both developed and developing, the relative importance of pharmacy technicians within the pharmacy workforce has been amplified in recent years, largely as a reaction to pharmacist shortages, resulting in an increase in their numbers and responsibilities; alternative medicine, pharmacotherapeutics, customer care, retail and hospital software systems, inventory management, and infection control.
Technicians' additional training allows them to perform tasks that include administering anesthesia, and medicating and vaccinating animals. Assistants feed and bathe animals, prepare examination and operating rooms, and may also perform clerical duties. State laws regulate what those working in each occupation are permitted to do. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) website provides a state-by-state guide to specified duties of assistants and technicians.
The structure of online pharmacy technician courses usually follows a “module” setup, where each section is its own module, most likely followed by an exam that you must pass to be sent the next module. Another program structure is called “distance learning.” If your program is labeled as such, you will have correspondence with your school via mail, email or online. There may be instances where your program requires that you attend certain classes on campus or at another convenient campus location.
Veterinary technologists and technicians earn two- or four-year degrees in veterinary technology. While they share many of the same responsibilities, technologists typically hold four-year bachelor's degrees in veterinary technology, whereas technicians hold two-year associate degrees. They must also pass an exam and become certified, licensed or registered, depending on the state. Strong science and math backgrounds are essential, Legred says, since much of the job involves drug calculations and lab tests.
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