A Registered Veterinary Technician differs from those labeled veterinary technicians in a lot of veterinary hospitals. Many veterinary hospitals label employees that have been with them and know certain skills as veterinary technicians, however a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) has attended at least 2 years and as many as 4 years of schooling obtaining an Assocaites or Bachelors Degree. A college program must be accreditated by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The human equivalent of the Registered Veterinary Technicians is a Registered Nurse (RN).
At school you attend classes on Anatomy, Physiology, Pharmacology, Large and Small Animal Medicine, Hematology, Anesthesia, Radiology, Parasitology, Medical Terminology, and many more. Students must also study ethics, economics as they relate to the veterinary field, biosecurity and legal applications. A minimum of 60 Semester Hours or the equivalent are required for each Accreditated Veterinary Technology Program. Besides all the classroom hours a student must also complete a minimum of 240 hours of internship time practicing their skills on the many different types of animals that they will encounter in their future practices.
After graduating with their degree a student then must pass a national standardized exam, The Veterinary Technician National Exam, and for some states, a state test as well. Once passed a student can apply to their state veterinary medical board or technician board to be licensed in their state. After obtaining a license in a state you will be labeled as a Licensed, Registered or Certified Veterinary Technician.
Once licensed in a state there are still requirements for continuing education. That means attending courses to keep up to date with their skills and knowledge each year. Each state has different requirements for how many hours are required to keep up with their license however their license must be renewed on a regular schedule.
Many veterinary technicians are in a supervisory role in veterinary practices, research institutions and other employment areas. Veterinary technicians can find employment in veterinary practices, biomedical research, zoo/wildlife medicine, industry, military, livestock health management, pharmaceutical sales, etc.
Lastly a licensed veterinary technician can further their knowledge and skill level by applying for, studying for and passing one of 11 specialties that have emerged including emergency and critical care, dermatology, zoology, rehabilitation, equine, nutrition and others. Other specialities are still forming as well, showing the dedication that many technicians have for the craft they love and the specialities they work in.
I am a registered veterinary technician with 30 years experience in many different areas of the animal industry and while I know a lot of information, I still learn things every day. One person cannot be knowledgable for instance on every pet diet out there, there are thousands and new ones coming out daily. I attended Bel-Rea Institute of Animal Technology to get my degree in Veterinary Technology.
Many who graduate with a veterinary technology degree may not even return to the animal field to work, but instead work in a human medical field or research. This is only to inform you the animal owner that there are not many registered veterinary technicians and not even enough in Maryland to have one per veterinary hospital. Many people who work at animal hospitals are people who have a love of animals and are trained on the job. These employees are the same people who monitor your pet under anesthesia and help in times of emergency. While some employees trained on the job, go on to technician or even veterinary school, many leave after a short time when they find out that the veterinary field is grueling both mentally and physically. And the pay that goes along with that grueling job sometimes doesn’t seem worth it when other options are available.
Lastly the burn out and turnover rate is high and the rate of suicide in our profession is rising daily. These are the realities we face daily.
I am proud to have become and still am a Registered Veterinary Technician.