Do you love animals? Are you interested in a job in the veterinary field? Jobs in the veterinary field are growing fast these days, but what job best fits you, and how do you go about entering the field?
You are never too old or too young to start looking into working in the veterinary field. There are many aspects of working with animals in a veterinary hospital, and each job has its own set of duties that greatly contribute to keeping a veterinary hospital running smoothly.
Veterinary Hospital Career Positions
Each of these career positions are equally as important in a hospital, but vary in the amount of experience and education needed, as well as the physical demands it requires.
Veterinarians: Prevent and help to treat illnesses, injuries and behavioral issues in animals. Veterinarians can specialize in specific types of veterinary medicine; such as, cardiology, dermatology, small animal, large animal, and exotics to name a few. Some duties include diagnosing illnesses, prescribing medications, performing surgery, giving vaccinations, and providing health care recommendations to pet owners. Veterinarians often work very long hours, and many make themselves available for emergency situations. Our doctor works 12 hour shifts Monday through Friday and also works weekends. Even is she is "off the clock", she is always "on call" if we have an emergency or an issue in the clinic. Education requirements are as follows:
Veterinary Technicians: Assist the veterinarians in the care of animals. They perform the initial evaluation of the animal's condition and relay the information to the veterinarian. They also clean and wrap wounds, check vital signs, and administer medications. They are the ones that pull blood samples and then perform basic lab work such as; urinalysis, blood tests. Veterinary technicians also help induce anesthesia and then monitor patients under anesthesia. They can also be responsible for assisting in some medical procedures, such as cleaning teeth, and scrubbing in to help hold items during a surgery. Most importantly they help during patient procedures by restraining animals, stocking the examination and surgery rooms with supplies, sterilizing tools and ensuring that equipment is in working order. Technicians also communicate with pet owners and educate them on various topics. Technicians often work longer hours as well including Saturdays and may be on call in some facilities 24 hours a day. Education requirements are as follows, but they vary by state. Some hospitals have veterinary technicians with no education past high school, but have at least 1-2 years of working experience in the field.
Veterinary Assistant: Assistants sometimes also called animal caretakers or animal care specialists look after animals in the hospital. They care for the animals by performing routine tasks under the supervision of the veterinarians, and veterinary technicians. Assistants are often responsible for making sure cages are clean, patients have fresh water and food, walk and medicate patients as needed. Assistants also help restrain patients for some procedures, and in some clinics can perform some medical procedures such as, nail trims, bathing, and expressing anal glands. Assistants help not only the veterinarians and technicians, but also will help the receptionists if needed. Education requirements are as follows, but vary by state. Many veterinary assistants have no education past high school, but have been trained on how to safely assist staff in the hospital.
Receptionist: A veterinary receptionist primary duty is interacting with clients and coordinating communication between doctors, assistants and the clients. Being a receptionist takes a kind and welcoming person who is able to deal with both humans and animals alike. The primary responsibility of a receptionist is to greet patients and their owners as they arrive, answer the phone calls that come in, and take payment from owners. A receptionist must have great communication skills, be friendly and outgoing. There are no educational requirements to become a receptionist. Many hospitals require 1-2 years of experience in the veterinary field prior to hiring. This is because clients ask the receptionists many questions throughout the day and it is important for a receptionist to know how to respond to them and help educate owners when necessary.
After learning about the various positions and what all they do, are you still interested in a job in the veterinary field? Some things to keep in mind, working in the veterinary field can be mentally and physically draining. It is often portrayed that we play with puppies and kittens all day and just give vaccines. But there is much more to the job, we not only work with animals but we directly work with their owners too. And just like in any other profession, not all people are respectful, not all people want to do what is best for their pets, and in some cases people want to treat their pets but are not financially able to do so. The fact is, as veterinary professionals we spend about 90% of our time working and communicating with owners and the remaining time we spend actually working with animals. Also, another thing to consider is that not all pets are nice. As a veterinarian, technician, and assistant we often face animals that are scared and react with aggression, and they need care too. Therefore, we have to find ways to restrain and treat them without making the veterinary hospital a bad or scary experience for them; which, puts us at risk of getting injured if we are not careful. Working in a veterinary hospital can be very rewarding at the same time, helping owners and pets alike is a great feeling.
All of this being said, your still interested in a job in the veterinary field?! Our biggest recommendation is to shadow various veterinary hospitals, rescues, training or boarding facilities to see if its the perfect fit for you. Even starting off with a job at a rescue, boarding facility, or kennel can be beneficial for gaining experience and learning the skills necessary to work in other aspects of the field. If you are interested in shadowing at a local hospital or facility, you can always call them and ask if they allow shadowing, many places are use to having people shadow because we understand that this isn't a job for everyone and that you may not know if its made for you unless you actually see it. That being said, for locals looking to shadow at our clinic, feel free to call or email to inquire about shadowing or internships. Since we just opened not even a year ago, we do encourage people to find busier clinics to shadow so that you can see and learn more, as we are still gaining our momentum and some days can be very slow for us. For any questions regarding working in the veterinary field, feel free to call or email us and we will do all we can to help answer them!