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What does a regular work day look like as a Vet Tech?

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Elizabeth’s Answer

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Hello Bethany!

It doesn't look like you have gotten any answers so I can give you a little information. I am a veterinarian, not a vet tech, but I work with many RVTs so I can tell you what they do in a day, but not necessarily how they see it.

Much of this will depend on the type of practice you work in. A general practice is usually open during the day, sometimes into the evening, and sometimes weeknds. Many emergency clinics are open from 5PM to 8AM, and all weekend. Specialty hospitals may be open 24 hours a day and may have busy emergency departments too.

Your shift will start with checking on any animals that are in the hospital. If it's a small clinic, the tech may be feeding, cleaning cages, and giving medications, while in a large hospital, the kennel attendants may do the feeding/cleaning (but really everybody helps with cleaning throughout the day). This happens before appointments begin, so the first shift may start really early. Then you may have rounds, where everybody checks in on how the animals are doing, which treatments have been done , and what the day looks like - who has which appointments, which surgeries, which technician will work with which doctor, who gets lunch breaks when, etc. Then the day "begins"! Clients bring their pets in, and the technicians usually do the first examination - (getting the weight, asking about the animal's history, checking the temp and pulse, etc) and record that for the veterinarian. Technicians hold the animals for the veterinarian to examine, they give vaccinations, get blood samples for lab work, do bandage changes, perform radiographs ("X-rays"), help with anaesthesia and surgery, perform dental cleanings, give medications, and help explain the doctor's instructions (like medications, exercise plans, when to come back, etc) to the clients when the appointment is done.

There are some mobile practices - many large animal doctors and also small animal doctors will go to the client's house/barn/farm to see patients. You will ride along, hold animals, help with examinations and procedures, clean up, etc. In equine practices this will involve some running - to examine a horse with a lameness problem, we need to have them jog back and forth. i know some equine technicians who are runners and are super fit!

Days can be crazy busy sometimes - depending on how many doctors, technicians, exam rooms, and surgery tables the practice has. Sometimes a "routine" appointment turns out to be really serious or complicated. Some days are happy days with healthy puppies and kitten appointments, and some days are sad days, but most often a mix.

You need to be a bit of a people person, even though we work on animals - you would be one of the first people that sees the clients, and also one of the last, helping to explain their pet's care. In the back, it is important to be a team player, so that everything that needs to get done gets done.


Elizabeth recommends the following next steps:

  • Check out veterinary technician programs in your area. You can find out what their requirements are and how to apply.
  • Check the state board information about veterinary technicians. In CA, you can see the requirements for RVT licensing at https://vmb.ca.gov/applicants/rvt_checklist.pdf
  • Depending on what grade/year you are in school, but you can ask veterinary clinics in your area about shadowing or volunteering. (hint - if they have a volunteer program, SHOW UP!!! and dress professionally - neat slacks and a polo shirt or scrub top if you have one.)