National Veterinary Technician Week: Q&A with our LVTs!
It’s been a fun week at Leesburg Veterinary Hospital as we celebrate National Veterinary Technician Week. We’ve enjoyed telling you all the ways our Licensed Veterinary Technicians (LVTs) are valuable members of our medical team. Today, we’re turning the tables on our techs, having them answer some common questions about the profession.
Our Clinical Technician Supervisor, Kimberly Shaffer (with the help of our other LVTs Jennifer, Melissa, Annie, and Joanne) took a few moments to give you a little insight into the life of a Leesburg Veterinary Hospital LVT.
Why do you say “LVT” instead of just “technician.”
LVT stands for Licensed Veterinary Technician. Across the country, there are equivalent certifications for this role including CVT (Certified), and RVT (Registered). This means we have completed a state approved curriculum for Veterinary Technology lasting 2-3 years and then passed a state board exam to obtain our license. Each year we have a specified number of continuing education hours we must acquire to renew the license each year. Our license gives us legal permission to practice skills such as placing IV catheters, providing anesthesia and monitoring for your pets during surgical and dental procedures, and administering medications, just to name a few. Leesburg Veterinary Hospital is proud to employ Licensed Veterinary Technicians as the first line of medical support for our veterinarians.
What does it take to become an LVT?
To become an LVT, you must have completed a few school courses (such as Chemistry) before applying for the program. After acceptance into a program, you must complete a curriculum with a good GPA that leads to an Associate’s Degree in Animal Science. Upon completion, students take a state board exam and a minimum score must be obtained to pass.
How does an LVT triage a pet over the phone?
It’s always important to assess what’s going on with a pet in an efficient manner to provide the best recommendations. I personally feel that it is important to introduce myself and let the pet owner know that I am there for them. Asking questions such as, “How is your pet acting otherwise?”, “Is he/she still eating/drinking/using the bathroom normally?”, “Is there anything your pet could have gotten into?”, And “How does his/her gum color look to you? Nice and pink?” are good starters. At the end of the day, to me, if a pet owner is concerned, then we always consider it important and try to offer immediate or convenient (as long as not emergent) times to assess their pets. Pet owners know their pet the best, and I don’t try to dismiss concerns. We are here to help.
Are there any tasks you can’t perform?
As an LVT, I am legally allowed to perform nursing skills as an RN would do in human medicine. I am not allowed to do three very important tasks. This includes performing surgery (thank goodness!), prescribing medication, and diagnose. My experience along the years, like many other LVTs, RVTs, and CVTs can attest to, has allowed me to catch things and be the “eyes and ears” for the doctor. We all work to be the voice of the pet.
Technicians do so much around the hospital – what is your favorite area of veterinary medicine?
Both Jenn and I really enjoy triage and emergency medicine. I think emergencies give us the ability to challenge our skills and knowledge, be a shoulder for a worried pet owner, and hopefully be part of a recovery. Joanne enjoys hospice and palliative care; her compassion and care for geriatric pets are admirable. Annie is an advocate for dental care. She gets a gratifying feeling knowing she can clean up a dirty mouth and make it sparkle! Melissa’s favorite part is patient care. Being a direct part of the healing and recovery of pets helps fulfill her passion for veterinary medicine.
What was your most memorable case?
Oh, this is a great one! My most memorable case with LVH would have to be this sweet Great Dane that was initially brought in by a rescue group. She had been with the rescue for at least three months and had intermittently been vomiting all along. She came to us because her vomiting had increased and she was quite ill. After a smart workup by Dr. Kloer, we took this Dane to surgery for a foreign body. What we found was two separate obstructions, one being a Disney Princess ball. After careful repair, she recovered from surgery with flying colors. We later discovered that the Disney ball had been there for at least four months!
Thank you, Kimberly, for a look into your world. And a HUGE thank you to all of the veterinary technicians out there – you’re dedication, compassion, and commitment to your clients and patients help us practice the best veterinary medicine every single day!