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Veterinary Technology Resources: Careers in Veterinary Medicine

Careers in Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary Assistant
A veterinary assistant is a part of the hospital support staff who does not require certification or passing a credentialing examination. Completion of a training program allows an applicant to earn a certified veterinary assistant (CVA) certificate; however this is often unnecessary. Veterinary assistants are more commonly trained on the job to handle and restrain animals, perform kennel and husbandry duties, complete clerical work, and assist veterinarians and veterinary technicians with their tasks.

Veterinary Technician (LVT, RVT, CVT)
A veterinary technician completes an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology from an accredited veterinary technology college or online program. Veterinary technicians must pass a credentialing examination regulated by the state veterinary board (Veterinary Technician National Examination or VTNE). Passing the VTNE earns the technician either a license, or registration, or certification (terms vary depending on the state) in veterinary technology. Once licensed, technicians must also maintain current continuing education credits. Veterinary technicians work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian and are trained to obtain patient data, collect laboratory specimens, provide nursing care, prepare patients and equipment for surgery, administer and monitor anesthesia, educate clients, and aid in various diagnostic, medical, surgical, and dental procedures. Technicians may be employed in multiple settings including clinical practice, zoos or aquaria, or education or biomedical research facilities.

Veterinary Technician Specialist (VTS)
A veterinary technician specialist is a licensed veterinary technician whose work centers on a specific discipline or area of veterinary medicine. Veterinary technician specialists receive rigorous formal training and mentorship, complete multiple case studies within their field, and earn certification in a specialty. Some areas recognized by the academy for specialization include dentistry, anesthesia, surgery, internal medicine, emergency and critical care, nutrition, and behavior. Most veterinary technician specialists are employed in a clinical practice setting due to the nature of their expertise; however, those focused on laboratory animal medicine will more likely be found in a research setting. The list of specialties is likely to expand as more areas of expertise are added.

Veterinarian (DVM, VMD)
A veterinary technician may elect to pursue his or her education further and seek a doctorate in veterinary medicine to become a veterinarian. A licensed veterinarian often completes at least 8 years of schooling (a bachelor’s degree in a field related to veterinary medicine plus four years of veterinary medical school). There is some slight variation in this number depending on the individual and the institution. Veterinarians are responsible for all aspects of patient care including diagnosing disease, prescribing treatment, interpreting laboratory results, and performing surgical procedures. Veterinarians must pass a national credentialing examination and individual state board examinations in the locales where they plan to practice. They must keep current in continuing education credits to maintain their licensure in good standing. Veterinarians may also pursue specialty training and earn board certification in various disciplines. Such certification requires an additional four years of training (a year-long internship and subsequent acceptance to a three-year residency program within the specialty).

Career Sites

Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) www.aavmc.org
This site has complete information on application to veterinary school if a veterinary technician elects to pursue a doctorate in veterinary medicine. Site includes a list of accredited institutions, helpful tips on the application process, career and educational opportunities, and current information on the veterinary profession.

American Association of Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) www.aalas.org
This site offers information regarding career opportunities working with laboratory animals in a biomedical research setting. Information about earning certification as an ALAT (Assistant Laboratory Animal Technician), LAT (Laboratory Animal Technician), and LATG (Laboratory Animal Technologist) can also be found at this site.

National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA) www.nwrawildlife.org and
New York State Wildlife Rehab Council www.nyswrc.org
Information about becoming a wildlife rehabilitator, current events, and career opportunities can be found on these sites.

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) www.wcs.org
The goal of the WCS is "to conserve the world's largest wild places in 16 priority regions, home to more than 50% of the world's biodiversity." Its website includes career opportunities for veterinary technicians interested in zoological or aquarium medicine.

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) www.aspca.org
This non-profit organization was founded in the 1800s to prevent abuse of work horses. Today, its mission is to alleviate and prevent abuse and suffering of all animals. The site offers some health information, legislative action for animal protection, and animal adoption and pet-finder services.

Humane Society of the United States www.hsus.org
The Humane Society site explains and describes public-awareness campaigns, programs, legislation, activist alerts, and educational publications. There are numerous state-wide affiliated organizations.

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