Veterinary technician go-getters in small animal practice take charge of their destiny these days, suggesting professional improvements they can make or tasks they can take on to best help their veterinary team. It's time for equine veterinary technicians to do the same.
And progressive equine practitioners should be seeking and demanding veterinary technicians who can handle more than paperwork and client conversations. The end result of talented technicians' efforts helps themselves, their equine patients, and the overall equine practice.
To that end, we've asked some high-performing equine team members to offer their advice for top technician traits to look for and emulate. Thanks go out to veterinary technicians Liane Dillon, Pam Poole, Jamie Tanis and Heather Wells ...
1. Keep a positive attitude
Staying calm and upbeat during times of stress will reassure not only the client, but also the patient. Doctors appreciate working with team members with a “can-do” attitude and a confident approach to handling difficult situations.
2. Demonstrate initiative
Recognize that there are many tasks that you as a technician can assume, freeing up the doctor to focus on work you can't perform. Do what you're capable of. This can encompass a wide range of duties, from making client phone calls to placing IV catheters. Recognize that you can always learn to do more, and be willing to take on new responsibilities.
3. Start with the sun—be proactive
Have a quick morning check-in with your doctors to find out what's planned for the day. Gather your things, get organized, and set up procedures as efficiently as possible. If you set up ahead of time, the emergency patients that walk in the door won’t derail your day entirely; you'll be able to work in the routine procedures when you have spare time.
4. Be responsible
The doctors, clients, and patients need to trust you. If you don’t understand something, ask—and learn. If you make a mistake, own up to it and learn from it. If you say you’ll do something, do it, or admit you may have underestimated your ability to get it done. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” after making an effort to figure something out on your own.
5. Be a team player
In larger equine practices and hospitals, other technicians may have different assigned duties, but everyone needs help sometimes. Make yourself available to help when you can, and you'll find yourself with help when you need it. Doctors are impressed when they find themselves in need of an extra hand—and discover they have several. Co-workers are a great resource and sounding board as well. A team with diverse backgrounds makes for unique problem-solving approaches.
6. Keep clients involved
In equine medicine, the client is typically present for most procedures. When you see a client looking worried or confused, and the doctor is busy trying to solve the medical puzzle of the patient, reassure clients by explaining what's going on. Sometimes just letting them know that the doctor will communicate thoroughly with them at the conclusion of the procedure is enough to reassure them.
7. Show attention to detail
It's one of the easiest ways to wow your doctor. Think ahead and anticipate what you'll need. Know which equipment and setups each doctor prefers. Make sure that equipment is in top working order prior to use. Veterinary technicians work in stressful situations, and anything you do as a technician to alleviate stress is very important. The time to go fetch a forgotten item is not when the animal is sedated and your doctor is sterile.
8. Step up to diagnostic imaging
Diagnostic imaging is an area in which veterinary technicians' knowledge of equine anatomy can be crucial for radiographic positioning. With both radiology and MRI, the vet techs need to have a good understanding of anatomy and how the machines work, so that clinicians don’t have to spend a lot of time diagnosing mechanical and technical machine errors.
9. Keep learning
Veterinary technicians should participate in conferences or CE, and bring that knowledge back to the practice to share with the clinicians, other veterinary technicians, and team members, as appropriate. Continuing education also lets technicians keep up with changes not only in veterinary medicine, but in technology advances and in equipment training to help improve the practice.
10. Improve record-keeping and billing
Technicians in the field and at facilities can often see better ways to capture charges and increase client face time for veterinarians. The more people who review invoices and bills in the moment, the more accurate billing will be. The technician can write up and follow up in the billing process, so that doctors have more time during appointments to discuss diagnosis and treatment with clients.
11. Help the herd—train fellow veterinary technicians
Technicians can also play a key role in training and explaining practice protocol to new hires as well as veterinary interns when they first start at the practice.
12. Have some grace
Sometimes thing don't go as they should, so you just have to remember that others may be just as frustrated as you.
13. Be upfront about how you feel
Don't let things fester. There's no time or place for drama in a vet hospital, so get rid of it before it starts.
14. Always ask what you can do to help
Co-workers are often not in a position to stop and ask for help when they need it. When you have time, ask whether others need help to make the hospital run smoothly.
15. Make their day
Ask your doctors, your co-workers, and your clients how they are, and wait for an answer. Listen to them, and make a personal but professional connection. This makes conflict resolution easier.
Editor's note: This photo gallery was adapted from this 2012 article. All images in this gallery courtesy Getty Images, Shutterstock.com and various veterinary hospitals.