I love being a veterinarian, and I love the challenges and interactive experiences I have with patients, their owners and my support team. I really enjoy seeing team members gain experience in their positions and become super cat advocates and handlers. Veterinary nursing is a very important job in a clinic. In California, individuals can become registered veterinary technicians, with the ability to perform many high-level tasks.
Veterinary hospitals employ technicians and assistants with different levels of nursing skills, but RVTs are the people legally able to carry out the most duties. I was thrilled a couple of weeks ago when Lindsey became our newest RVT. She joins Linda, Donna and Chrystel with this distinction.
Becoming an RVT requires education, experience, and passing of a state licensing examination. Locally, Cal Poly Pomona, Mount San Antonio College, Carrington College, Stanbridge College and the Professional Veterinary Assistant School all offer local RVT training programs. There are a couple of online/interactive programs that the state of California has approved for training, too. Once you become an RVT, you are required to complete 20 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain your license.
It’s hard to imagine a human hospital running without licensed nurses; the same is true for quality veterinary practices. RVTs are special because, under the direct supervision of a veterinarian in California, they are able to induce anesthesia, apply casts and splints, perform dental extractions, suture tissues and create a relief hole in the skin to facilitate placement of an intravascular catheter. RVTs are not able to perform surgery, make diagnoses or prescribe medications, but their education and experience allows them to counsel clients and thoroughly explain a veterinarian’s recommendations. Having reliable, technically capable, licensed technicians on my team is a cornerstone of care at my clinic.
Dentistry is an area where RVTs really excel. Linda, Donna and Chrystel all have Veterinary dental technician certificates and regularly attend continuing-education courses in dental care. Patients undergoing dental procedures at my clinic are examined by the attending veterinarian, who then authorizes anesthesia. The RVT administers the anesthesia, monitors the patient, charts the teeth, and performs dental X-rays. The veterinarian then reviews the X-rays and the results of the examination of the teeth and determines if any extractions are required. She will then authorize antibiotics and additional pain medications. The RVT performs the extractions, takes post-extraction X-rays and sutures the gums.
Other oral procedures are performed by the veterinarian when needed. Cleaning, polishing and sealing of the teeth are completed by the RVT. The RVT and veterinarian are a team for the entire dental procedure and recovery. They also work together to communicate with the client about what the individual patient needed and what is expected once the pet is sent home.
RVTs also provide emergency care, completing life-saving treatments including administering drugs for shock, establishing airways for intubation and providing resuscitative oxygen and external cardiac resuscitation. RVTs are frequently more readily available than veterinarians when an emergency arises, so it is wonderful to be able to count on trained experts to start treatments.
The next time you visit your vet’s office, be sure to notice if anyone has “RVT” on their name badge. If they do, you know that they have worked hard to become licensed and should be extremely knowledgeable about veterinary care.
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