National Veterinary Technician Week is October 11 to 17, but we want to recognize the hard work of Lebanon Animal Hospital’s amazing veterinary technicians (i.e., vet techs) not only that week, but every day of the year. Since most of you already have first-hand experience with our technicians in the exam room and know they are great at taking medical histories, obtaining vitals, answering questions, and going over discharge instructions, we would like to walk you through our other clinic rooms to see these veterinary superheros at work.
Vet techs in the laboratory
A vet tech is bent over the microscope, intently searching for parasites or parasite eggs on a slide she prepared from a puppy’s fecal sample. She completes her search and tells the veterinarian the good news—no pesky intestinal parasites to be found—and then sits back down at the microscope to examine an aspirate of cells from the mass on a dog’s leg. This one isn’t such good news, because she identifies cancerous mast cells on the slide. Next she inserts small amounts of blood and urine from a patient into a computerized analyzer, so the veterinarian can have a rapid urinalysis, blood chemistry, and blood count on a lethargic, dehydrated cat in suspected kidney failure.
Vet techs in the radiology room
Two vet techs wearing lead aprons and thyroid shields are measuring a golden retriever’s abdomen, and then adjusting the X-ray machine to the correct settings, based on those measurements. They carefully lift the dog onto the table, position him on his side so his abdomen is properly centered in the X-ray beam, and capture the image with the click of a button. Then, they gently position the dog on his back, snap another X-ray, move him to his other side for the final view, lift him down, and snuggle with him for being such a good boy.
Vet techs in the surgical suite
The day’s routine surgical procedures will soon begin. One tech is doing a safety check of the anesthesia machine and laying out a surgical gown, gloves, and surgical instruments for the first surgery, a dog spay and gastropexy (i.e., stomach tacking to prevent bloat). The tech has already administered preanesthetic drugs to the patient, and once the surgery room is set up, he will place an intravenous (IV) catheter in the dog’s front leg and administer the anesthetic drugs. He will pass the endotracheal (i.e., breathing) tube, and attach the dog to the anesthetic machine, IV fluids, and monitoring equipment. Next, he will begin measuring and charting the patient’s heart and respiratory rates, blood pressure, and oxygenation to ensure the dog is safely and properly anesthetized. At the same time, a second tech is shaving and sterilely preparing the patient’s abdomen for the surgery. The first tech will continue to monitor the patient through the surgery and into the recovery phase while the second completes a sterile hand scrub and carefully puts on her surgical gown and gloves to assist the veterinarian with the gastropexy.
Next on the agenda is a dental procedure on a cat. As before, one tech will be responsible for the anesthetic process, while the other will clean and polish the cat’s teeth, take dental X-rays, and record dental exam findings.
Vet techs in the hospital ward
The vet tech gently tends to the sick and injured patients in the hospital ward. She assesses each patient’s vital signs, ensures they have clean, comfortable bedding, watches for pain or distress signs, and administers the medications or treatments the veterinarian ordered. One dog doesn’t want to eat, so she prepares a bowl of several types of dog food, sits on the floor, and strokes the dog, patiently enticing him to eat out of her hand.
Vet techs in the treatment room
The receptionist lets the vet techs know that a hit-by-car dog is arriving in five minutes, and the vet techs spring into action. They lay out supplies for an IV catheter and fluids, hook up the oxygen, place towels on a table, and turn on the monitoring equipment. As soon as the dog arrives, they whisk him to the treatment area and work with the veterinarian to assess the injuries and stabilize him. In no time, they place an IV catheter, draw blood, take X-rays, clean and bandage the areas of road rash, and set him up in a comfortable cage where he can rest, while they continue to monitor him.
As you can see, our vet techs are a vital part of our clinic. We appreciate all the hard work and dedication our vet techs and veterinary assistants—Stasha, Lenore, Beth, Tiara, Megan and Meg—put forth for us and your pets every day. They are intelligent, hard-working, compassionate people who are dedicated to serving and loving your pet like their own. The next time you visit or call, take a minute to thank them for all that they do.