Being a Registered Veterinary Technician

In the veterinary industry, October has been designated as National Veterinary Technician Month. As October comes to a close, I reflect on being a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT).

I have been practicing for 17 years in this wonderful industry. We are not “just a Vet Tech”. What does an RVT do? I have been asked this question a million times. In short, we are the advocates for your pets! One of the most incredible aspects of the RVT profession is just how extensive our knowledge and experience is. In general practice, we are the ones who monitor anesthetic; we assist the Veterinarians in surgery. We take and run the bloodwork for your pets. We take and process your pet's X-rays. We are your fur babies' nurses while they stay in the hospital. We are nutritionists and client educators. We are dental hygienists for dogs and cats. We are educated in a dozen areas within veterinary medicine – small animals, large animals, exotics, avian, wildlife and zoo animals.

An RVT is able to provide services to:

  • Private veterinary practice (small, large and exotic animals)
  • Veterinary teaching hospitals
  • Emergency Care
  • Diagnostic laboratories
  • Educational institutions/teaching
  • Zoo animal and wildlife care
  • Wildlife rehabilitation
  • Animal behaviourist and rehabilitation
  • Biomedical research facilities
  • Livestock health facilities
  • Animal shelters, humane societies
  • Pet health insurance
  • Government and industrial institutions
  • Clinic reception/administration
  • Veterinary palliative and hospice care
  • Animal healthcare industry sales representatives (pharmaceuticals, nutrition, pet food & supplies)

How do you become an RVT?

1. You must first graduate from an accredited college program. It could be a 2 or 3-year program at Algonquin College (Ottawa), College Boreal (Sudbury or Alfred), Georgian College (Orillia), Northern College (Haileybury), Seneca College (King City), Sheridan College (Brampton), St. Clair College (Windsor), St. Lawrence College (Kingston), Thompson Rivers University (Correspondence) and University of Guelph (Ridgetown).

2. Be a pending member of the OAVT (Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians) in good standing—You must be a pending member of the OAVT to write the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). To become a pending member, you must graduate from an OAVT-accredited college.

3. You must pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination.

4. You must take the Professionalism and Ethics Workshop. The outcome of the workshop is to develop an understanding of the professionalism and ethics demanded in our highly specialized profession.

5. You must have a clean criminal record check.

I am a veterinary technician. My clothes are often hairier than the patients. I am the go-between for clients and veterinarians. I am often the victim of the trifecta: urine, feces and anal gland fluid. I have been bitten and scratched – I have my battle scars. I have been physically abused by an owner. I have reached rock bottom and suffered from Compassion Fatigue.

After the work is done, I work some more. I have missed my lunch on many occasions. I have held my bladder to the point it hurts. I have cried many tears, been angry and stressed to the max, and laughed. I have helped owners say goodbye to family members.

The truth is, at the end of the day, I love my patients. I get to build relationships with our clients. I love my job because I am a veterinary technician, and I help save lives.

I was born to be an RVT—to hold, aid, save, help, instruct, and inspire. It’s who I am—my calling, my passion, my life, and my world. I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love my job.

Written by Kristine Hanson, RVT