Persons with varying degrees of educational experience are staffing the veterinary hospital. Tasks performed in the hospital, to provide animal care, should be assigned to persons in the level where education and training exists to ensure a positive outcome for the patient. There may be times when an employee may be asked to work at a level below their expertise, but in keeping with the philosophy of quality animal care, the opposite should not take place.
The veterinarian is solely responsible for diagnosing, prognosing, prescribing medication and performing surgery. They are ultimately responsible for all patient care and outcomes. Most veterinarians apply for veterinary medical school admission while obtaining a bachelor degree in a compatible field. If accepted into a medical school, the course of study usually takes another four years, making that a grand total of eight years of schooling. Every state requires a veterinarian to take and pass a licensing exam. Successful candidates are given a license to practice veterinary medicine.
The veterinary Technicians and technologists are educated to be the veterinarian’s nurse, laboratory technician, radiography technician, anesthetist, surgical nurse and client educator. Many veterinary technicians and technologists are placed in a supervisory role in veterinary practices, research institutions and other employment options. Veterinary technicians can find employment in veterinary practices, biomedical research, zoo/wildlife medicine, industry, military, livestock health management, pharmaceutical sales, etc. Most veterinary technicians are graduates of an AVMA accredited associate’s or bachelor’s program and have passed the VTNE exam, while some states provide alternate routes to credentialing. The term “Veterinary Technologist” is specifically designated for bachelor’s program graduates. NAVTA, through the VNI, is working to establish a standard credential that would require being a graduate from an associate’s program and passing the VTNE as they enter the profession going forward.
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A veterinary technician or technologist specialist has met the same requirements as above plus spends about 75% of their time doing a specific task and has passed a specialist certification exam administered by a Specialist Academy. Currently, there are eleven academies offering specialty certification.
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The veterinary assistant may have training through a high school, college certificate program or through a distant learning program over the Internet. Most, however, are trained on the job by the veterinarian or the veterinary technician. Their role is to assist the veterinarian or the veterinary technician in their daily tasks as well as some basic duties such as setting up of equipment and cleaning of key areas in the clinic like the surgery suite. Some may be asked to do kennel cleaning and janitorial work as well. NAVTA has recently created a Approved Veterinary Assistant program. click here for more details.