What Is an RVT?

What is an RVT (Registered Veterinarian Technician)? What role do we play in your veterinary practice? As an RVT of 19 years, I have been asked this question numerous times. There is no easy answer to this question and most of the time I respond with a non-complicated comparison between us and an RN in the human medical field. There are similarities between us, such as patient care and husbandry, but RVT’s are extensively trained to perform multiple tasks within the vet practice. In this blog, I intend to clear up the misconceptions of our role and reveal RVT’s are an integral member of your vet family team.

Unlike your local hospital or family health team, there are not specific departments in your veterinary hospital for radiographs and lab work. Your technician team within the hospital performs these diagnostics. In the lab, RVT’s are trained to perform basic bloodwork on our vet analyzers, as well as comprehensive microscopic analysis. It includes urinalysis, fecal analysis, and cytology for ear infections, lumps on your animal, and CBC’s (complete blood count). Radiography in the clinic is another task we are skilled to perform. RVT’s are educated in operation of the x-ray system, proper patient positioning, and most importantly ensuring these radiographs are taken safely for all staff members and your animal. Blood collection and intravenous catheter placement is a major part of our daily duties in veterinary practice. It differs greatly from human medicine because we have the added hurdle of compliance of our patient and the hair factor! These daily obstacles make us great problem solvers and enhance our patients.

The majority of clients, when I explain that technicians are immensely included in the anesthesia process, are astonished. Our education is vastly focused on calculating and administering the medications, stabilizing our patient on the anesthetic machine, and most importantly monitoring and recovery from anesthesia. When I first entered the technician field, I rarely engaged with, and educated clients do to the fact I was utilized more with patient care. Times have changed, for the better, where RVT’s are involved with team medicine. Meaning we work closely with our veterinarian team facilitating them with appointments. Our communication skills are being recognized and valued by the veterinary team.

Dentistry is an important aspect of vet medicine and important to sustaining the health and quality of life of your beloved pets. It’s no surprise that technicians are very hands-on in assisting the veterinarian in performing this mission of good oral health. RVT’s are responsible for cleaning of the teeth (known as dental prophy), taking dental radiographs, and aiding in the removal of diseased teeth.

The benefit of my job is that I am constantly learning daily, but technicians are required, by our governing body, to complete a minimum amount of continuing education yearly. Just as in human medicine, vet medicine is constantly changing. It is imperative technicians are involved with this change so we can better educate our clients and improve patient care.

Written by: Jackie Lane, RVT