National Veterinary Technician Week 2012

October 12, 2012

AMC LVT, Monika Wright

October 14- 20, is a celebration of the contributions to the healthcare of animals made by veterinary technicians. Often called “nurses,” these licensed professionals practice under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. In New York State, veterinary technicians prepare and give medications as ordered by the veterinarian, take x-rays, induce and maintain anesthesia, and assist with medical and surgical procedures. Most importantly, they are critical members of the team caring for your pet. Last year, in honor of Veterinary Technician week, I wrote about the care received by Jack Black the Cat.

Just as in human healthcare, nurses for animals are in great demand. Not only are career opportunities available for veterinary technicians to work in general veterinary offices, but specialization in various disciplines such as oncology or anesthesia, participation in biomedical research, enlistment in the military and even working as a technician in zoo and wildlife medicine are also widely available.

Like all professionals, there is a backstory about the day-to-day life of veterinary technicians. If you are considering a career as a veterinary technician or just know someone whose job it is to be a technician, you may be unaware of what a typical day entails. Hopefully this blog will give you a bit of the inside scoop and provide a greater appreciation for the labors of love they each perform every day for our pets.

Fashionistas need not apply

Looking for a job where you look great and wear fabulous clothes? Unless your skin tone becomes more ravishing when you wear scrub-suit green, being a veterinary technician is probably not for you. However, if you like to change clothes frequently, we can accommodate your needs. A shake of the head can send ear drops flying right onto your freshly laundered ensemble or a pooch with a bloody nose can change you plain shirt into a polka dot one!

Adoption options

Seeing cute animals all day, every day brings a smile to every technician’s face, since like veterinarians, they love being around animals. But loving animals occasionally has a darker side. Every animal hospital provides its employees with plenty of options to adopt a new pet: a basket of kittens left on the doorstep or a dog tied to the lamppost, but every family, even those with a member skilled in providing pet care, has a limit to the number of pets they can handle, both emotionally and financially.

Compassionate technicians may run the risk of trying to help too many of the animals in need that they encounter. Reliable resources for helping these animals are at the tip of the fingertips of the best technicians who know or have learned the limits of their care.

Injury report

Like many businesses, The AMC tracks statistics on workplace injuries. No surprises here: topping the list are bites and scratches, followed by back injuries. Fortunately, licks and kisses are not considered injuries, just part of the fun of being a tech.

A heartfelt thanks to all veterinary technicians

During National Veterinary Technician Week 2012, the veterinarians of The AMC would like to recognize our nearly 80 technicians – and every technician nationwide – for their commitment to their profession and the support of ours.

If you are thinking of a career as a veterinary technician, visit http://www.veterinarytechnician.com.

You will find lots of useful information and even job opportunities in your area.


Visionary Leaves His Imprint in Veterinary ICUs

August 18, 2011

Dog in oxygen cage in AMC’s ICU. Plexiglas door provides total visibility for monitoring while maintaining oxygen-rich environment for patient.

The Washington Post has an interesting obituary online. The obituary of Dr. Max Harry Weil credits this physician with helping to invent the intensive care unit (ICU) in human hospitals. I wonder if he would be surprised to know his work is visible in the intensive care unit at The Animal Medical Center and many other large veterinary hospitals as well?

Dr. Weil’s precursor to the ICU we know today was a “shock ward” with four beds in 1958. The AMC’s ICU has 19 “beds” and manages pets in shock from serious trauma, such as automobile accidents, on a daily basis.

Dr. Weil’s vision was for all the necessary equipment and expertise required by seriously ill patients to be housed together in a single location. He coined the term “critical care” to describe both the hospital space and the expertise. To meet the needs of his critically ill patients, he developed the rolling “crash cart” holding the equipment and drugs necessary for managing cardiac arrest. The AMC has multiple crash carts throughout the hospital so one is always near a pet in need.

Contents of just one drawer in an AMC crash cart.

In the AMC’s ICU, there is a small “stat lab” where we measure biological parameters which can change on a minute to minute basis. This stat lab allows the ICU staff to measure blood oxygen levels, red blood cell counts, liver and kidney function, blood sugar and the blood’s ability to clot 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Ready access to monitoring allows the critical care staff to change treatments in response to changes in the pet’s condition.

Stat lab in AMC’s ICU.

In keeping with Dr. Weil’s vision of critical care, the AMC ICU also includes a highly trained staff specializing in the care of critically ill patients. Veterinarians who are specialists in the management of critically ill patients are board certified by the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care.

We also have nurses, called licensed veterinary technicians, who are certified by the North American Veterinary Technician Academy in emergency and critical care.

Pets and veterinarians everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Max Harry Weil for his vision of critical care, which helps us to take better care of our patients every day.

Photos: Ann Hohenhaus, DVM

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Careers in Veterinary Medicine

May 31, 2011

On May 26th I participated in a career fair at IS 204 in Long Island City, Queens. In case there are any aspiring veterinarians reading this, I thought I would give a review of what I talked about at the career fair with these middle school students.

Most middle school students in New York City are exposed to veterinary medicine through the care a neighborhood veterinarian provides to a family pet such as a cat, dog or other companion animal, but the opportunities the profession offers are much wider.

Nearly 100,000 veterinarians in the United States provide healthcare to animals who supply us with food, such as cattle and fish, produce fiber for clothing, such as sheep and alpacas, and protect the public health though their efforts on behalf of local, state and federal agencies. Veterinarians care for animals in research laboratories, wildlife parks, zoos and classrooms. Other veterinarians become professors, training the next generation of animal caregivers.

Neighborhood veterinarians are typically generalists, providing preventive and general healthcare to their patients. Some veterinarians, like me, are specialists, with additional training. My training is in treating pets with cancer.

For middle school students interested in a career in veterinary medicine, choose a high school with a strong college preparatory program, especially in science and mathematics.  Use your summers to explore veterinary medicine by volunteering at an animal shelter or veterinarian’s office. Participate in an animal related summer program. One such program is sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo.

Colleges of veterinary medicine offer summer programs for high school juniors and seniors. My alma mater, Cornell University, offers four programs for high school students. Michigan State University, Tufts University and the University of Pennsylvania, among others, host similar programs.

When choosing a college major, it is not essential to choose biology or animal science. I went to veterinary school with someone who had majored in Russian literature, but she completed all the science and math prerequisites required to apply to veterinary school. Keep in mind, grades matter. The University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine offers a college level summer “camp” for preveterinary students.

If the four years of college and four years of veterinary school are not for you, but you are interested in being part of an animal healthcare team, you might want to consider becoming a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT). Multiple programs throughout the country offer associate degrees in veterinary technology. The closest program to both The AMC and IS204 is at LaGuardia Community College, also in Long Island City, Queens.

Veterinary medicine offers great diversity in career options for the student interested in biology, zoology and mathematics. Additional information on pursing a career in veterinary medicine and veterinary technology can be found at the American Veterinary Medical Association website.

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This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


Celebrating Key Members of the Veterinary Healthcare Team

October 11, 2010

When you make a visit to your doctor, an entire team of medical professionals work together to provide you with optimal care. A visit to your pet’s veterinarian is no different. The key member of the veterinary healthcare team we are celebrating this week is the licensed veterinary technician, sometimes called registered veterinary technician, licensed veterinary medical technician or certified veterinary technician.

October 10-16, 2010 is National Veterinary Technician Week and celebrates the hands-on contributions these professionals make to animal health. These highly trained team members specialize in being the veterinarian’s right hand and have duties similar to nurses in human medicine. Most of you are familiar with veterinary technicians who draw blood from your pet or help you to administer medications. But, there is more to this profession than pet owners typically see. You won’t usually see them taking x-rays, giving chemotherapy or preparing a patient for anesthesia and assisting in surgery, but veterinary technicians are essential team members throughout the veterinary hospital.

Veterinary technicians are not limited to working in small animal clinics. They help provide medical care to livestock, laboratory animals, wildlife and zoo animals. Their broad training teaches them skills useful in laboratories, medical supply companies or the pet food manufacturing industry. Many are promoted to veterinary practice manager while others pursue additional training in rehabilitation medicine.

Most veterinary technicians have a two-year associate degree, although some veterinary technician programs lead to a baccalaureate degree. Once they have earned a degree, veterinary technicians must pass a licensing examination administered by the state. Each state’s requirements for licensing are different. The job prospects for licensed veterinary technicians are excellent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth of 36% is expected between 2008-2018 for veterinary technician positions. This is higher than the expected growth for all occupations overall.

A recent innovation in the veterinary technician world is specialization. Now, technicians can be acknowledged as experts in their field. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) recognizes eight academies, or areas of specialization, such as internal medicine, anesthesia, and emergency and critical care.  To become certified, technician specialists must complete a formal process of education, training, experience and testing. The Animal Medical Center currently has five technician specialists and more enrolled in the training process.

During National Veterinary Technician Week, The AMC would like to recognize our nealry 80 technicians and thank them for their commitment to their profession.
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For nearly a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.


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