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National Veterinary Technician Week: Veterinarian and vet technicians examining a dog

National Veterinary Technician Week

Q: I know what the veterinarian does, but what about all the other people who care for my cats at the animal hospital? I hear so many terms, from veterinary nurse to technician to assistant, that I’m not clear on everyone’s role.

A: National Veterinary Technician Week, from October 15 to 21, is a good time to send cookies and a thank you note to your veterinarian’s support staff.

The veterinary technician has formal training and has passed national and state examinations to become a licensed professional. Training involves all non-human species, whether their skin is covered by fur, feathers or scales. Testing measures competency in medical and surgical nursing, anesthesiology, laboratory testing of all kinds, radiology, pharmacology and more.

The individual state that credentials the veterinary technician determines whether the terminology is Certified Veterinary Technician, Licensed Veterinary Technician, Licensed Veterinary Medical Technician or Registered Veterinary Technician.

A Veterinary Technician Specialist pursues additional education and passes examinations to specialize in one field, such as anesthesia and analgesia, behavior, dentistry, emergency and critical care, nutrition, ophthalmology, physical rehabilitation or surgery.

Many veterinary assistants have formal training and have passed exams to earn the title Approved Veterinary Assistant. Other assistants learn on the job. Regardless, veterinary assistants help the veterinarian and technician care for your pets.

The term veterinary nurse is sometimes used to encompass veterinary technicians and assistants. A movement is underway to change the term veterinary technician to Registered Veterinary Nurse.

Regardless of the terminology, please remember to thank all those who take such good care of your cats!


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at askdrlee@insurefigo.com.

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