We appreciate our vet techs all year long but in October we shine the light on just how essential they are to their practices. The extensive skill sets that techs bring to the table are truly valuable and important to utilize, especially during challenging times and staffing transitions. Throughout this month we will bring you stories from the practices themselves as they do their best to capture the breadth of a tech’s work in a short blog (trust us, it’s hard to do!).
Karen April, the HM at Norton Animal Hospital, kicks off this blog series by explaining the long history of tech involvement at the practice.
Our staff has always been an integral part of client communication and patient care. When Dr. Silberhorn started the practice in 1978, he was a front runner in allowing technicians to be very hands-on, and that philosophy has continued to be an important dynamic in the way we practice veterinary care.
How does Norton Animal Hospital show appreciation by giving technicians a sense of purpose?
Our technicians are responsible for everything except diagnosing and performing surgery. We also require and encourage staff to discuss the cases they are working on with the doctor – for example, if a technician notes that something needed was forgotten by the doctor, then they are required to speak up and discuss it. Our techs perform all aspects of anesthesia, from making drug plans for the surgeries to calculating and administering drugs. We have set protocols and guidelines that the doctor has specified so that we are all on the same page. They perform all x-rays, recommend and perform laboratory tests, discuss all wellness recommendations, such as nutrition, heartworm/flea/tick prevention, and provide training tips for behavior issues. Our senior techs are also capable of relaying doctor recommendations based on lab results from wellness testing, drug therapy monitoring, and some common diseases we see weekly - thyroid, diabetes, kidney.
What are the benefits of using your technicians to their fullest capacity?
Our entire staff functions as a team - we all have a part to do and no one is more important than the other because no one can do this job alone very effectively. Our doctors are able to see more patients because they can concentrate on diagnosing and making recommendations and then the techs perform all the treatments. We include staff in our decision-making and always ask for feedback. We create protocols together so that everyone has buy-ins and knows why we are doing things in a certain way.
When we have relief veterinarians come in to help, they always comment on the amount of work that the technicians are responsible for, as well as the quality of the work.
Just over a year ago we kicked off TechLife, a special program focused on techs, and it has since grown into a robust online community ranging from new to experienced techs supporting each other, sharing their insights, and also taking advantage of the tech benefits available to them.