The lab team at Animal Hospital of North Asheville is a very busy team. We are responsible for performing many of the diagnostic procedures that the veterinarians order. We are similar to the registered nurses and the registered technicians in human hospitals. Just as MDs would be hard pressed to care for patients without trained support staff, the doctors at Animal Hospital of North Asheville depend heavily on us. While we are proud of our abilities and skills, the main reason we veterinary technicians chose our careers is the great love we have for animals. Each of us has more than one pet and some of us have several! When we have a patient in our care, we treat him/her as our own. We try to make each pet’s experience at AHNA as positive and as fun as possible with lots of love, treats, and special care.
When patients come in to the hospital they don’t understand why they are here. We comfort them and explain to them about the procedure (yes, we actually talk them through what we are doing!). Jen, one of our Techs, learned about the ‘Name and Explain Technique’ during a continuing education class and we immediately began explaining everything we do to the pet as we do it. Our pets can learn many different words, and even if they don’t understand the words we use to explain what we are doing here at Animal Hospital of North Asheville, they hear a calm and reassuring voice which lets them know that we care about how they are feeling. Using the technique can be helpful when gently positioning them for an x-ray, while drawing blood, or even such things as giving a nail trim.
We treat each patient as a unique individual who may require a different approach when working with them. We know that one thing may calm one pet while something different may work better for another pet. We understand that being away from home and from family can be scary, but one of our main goals is to take the time and learn what comforts each patient to make their visit with us as positive as possible.
Ten of the technicians at AHNA are registered. We have gone through specialized college courses to obtain a degree. After completing our schooling, we then have to take tests to become registered in the United States and in North Carolina. After schooling, we continue our education by attending conferences, seminars, and online classes. After returning from continuing education, we present information to the doctors, fellow techs, and support staff so that the knowledge can be used by everyone. Our goal is to help bring up-to-date techniques, new learning theories, and creative ways to ensure a better experience for the patients and families that visit us. Our interests lie in everything from behavior and physical therapy, to dentistry, surgery, nutrition, blood transfusion and much more.
Our doctors utilize us to perform diagnostics for them to interpret. Their confidence and trust in us to assist them in taking care of their patients motivates us to do our best. The doctors are always eager to answer our questions to help us better understand and increase our knowledge. We appreciate the trust they place in us.
The techs that work in the lab require a vast amount of knowledge and skill to perform a wide range of duties. As veterinary technicians, we must have very diverse skills and we quickly learn to multitask:
- First and foremost, we are always gentle and caring. Our experience and knowledge allow us to hold pets and enlist their cooperation in ways that do not require force. Of course, we give lots and lots of treats!
- We are ready as a team led by a veterinarian to provide immediate life-saving action when emergencies are presented, which may include everything from CPCR, to oxygen therapy, to placing an endotracheal tube, to starting an IV catheter, and so much more.
- Venipuncture (drawing blood samples) for diagnostic tests
- Placing many kinds of catheters – urinary catheters, IV catheters in different locations as needed- from leg to jugular, and specialized chemotherapy catheters
- Administering medications which necessitates knowing the type of medications, the dosage, and interactions with other medications
- Taking digital radiographs which requires us to know the technique and the positioning of the patient so that the patient is comfortable, the procedure is quick and the x-rays are diagnostic
- Performing lab chemistry tests and profiles in our in-house lab
- Performing manual and automated Complete Blood Counts and platelet counts
- Performing urinalysis and fecal centrifugations and direct smears
- Cleaning ears and performing ear cytology
- Administering IV and SQ fluids
- Trimming nails and expressing anal glands while keeping an eye out for concerns with either
- Properly applying casts, splints, and bandages
- Performing laser treatments both for arthritis and wound treatments
- Clipping the hair around and cleaning wounds
- Assisting the ward nurses when caring for hospitalized patients, especially the critical care patients
- Taking time to help with client education in such things as administering fluids, trimming nails, expressing anal glands, or cleaning ears. We even address topics on behavior such as the best way to approach a problem the client is having, to when it is a good idea to seek a behaviorist. We can fit collars and harnesses and give advice on puppy and kitten common training issues.
- We also assist in special procedures such as rhinoscopy, endoscopy, and ultrasound
- Record keeping
As technicians we are very versatile and are called upon to do many different duties. Each day is different and exciting. We are part of a great team consisting of doctors, fellow techs, ERTs, CCTs, support staff, and management that all work together. Without each team member we are not able to function, and that is why we cross over into other areas to assist one another for the better care of our patients.
A special note from Kelly Brown, RVT:
I know for myself that I have the best job ever! All that I get to do as a Veterinary Technician is hard to describe. I have always known I wanted a career taking care of animals. Even as a kid, I nursed my own pets to health through some incredible odds. I would not trade being a Vet Tech for anything. It is an adventure every day! I am blessed to take care of some incredible animals including wildlife rehabilitation.
I have been with AHNA for 24 years. It has been an honor to care for the pets I have come to know throughout the years. I have been able to see them grow from kittens and puppies to adults, through their senior years, and be with them at the end. I have thanked owners that have allowed me to be a part of their pet’s lives because in some ways they are like my own. I am privileged to have been able to know and love some amazing pets; each has made me better in some way as a Tech and a person.
I have been blessed to care for injured turtles, baby turkeys, baby squirrels, dogs, cats, and my own animals, which include dogs, cats, horses, and a donkey!