Many Americans feel that their treasured companion animals should be treated with the same level of care that they themselves receive.
For this reason, the employment options for veterinary professionals are better than ever before.
Veterinary assistants help veterinarians, veterinary technicians and other licensed veterinary care workers to provide high quality care for the various types of animals that are brought in for medical treatment.
In addition, some veterinary assistants work in labs in order to ensure that the laboratory animals are properly cared for by the practice.
These individuals are known as laboratory animal caretakers and carry out many of the same duties as veterinary assistants.
What do Veterinary Assistants Do?
Veterinary assistants help ensure that all animals under their care are kept in a healthy and comfortable environment.
Among the most common duties veterinary assistants perform are the following:
- Ensuring that all animals receive a proper diet. In many cases, each individual animal will receive a diet tailored to its specific needs.
- Ensure that all animals receive exercise that is adequate for the animal’s breed, health condition and age. This may involve actively exercising animals such as horses and dogs while other animals may simply be allowed to move about in an exercise area under the supervision of the assistant.
- Humanely and safely restrain animals during veterinary procedures. In many cases, the assistant must be able to, individually or with assistance, ensure that large animals cannot harm the veterinary staff while also preventing the animal from harming itself.
- Sterilize, clean and properly store veterinary equipment.
- Give medication to animals under the direction of a licensed veterinarian or veterinary technician.
- Assist in collecting samples of urine and other bodily fluids for later testing by the veterinarian.
The Veterinary Assistant’s Limitations
Because the law varies from state to state, the limitations on a veterinary assistant’s duties may differ.
In general, veterinary assistants may not directly provide veterinary care to an animal, provide a diagnosis of an animal’s condition or otherwise carry out duties that are restricted to licensed veterinary technicians and veterinarians.
Failing to abide by these restrictions can result in civil action being taken against the veterinary assistant and his or her employer, in addition to potential civil and even criminal liability.
In addition, violating the law regarding a veterinary assistant’s permissible duties is very likely to result in termination from his or her current employer.
Becoming a Veterinary Assistant In New York
Veterinary assistants are an unlicensed profession, meaning that it is not necessary to obtain a state license in order to work in this field. This makes becoming a veterinary assistant an ideal choice for those individuals seeking to enter the veterinary field but who are currently unable to become a licensed veterinary worker.
In general, most veterinary assistants either have graduated from high school or have obtained an equivalency degree. In addition, most individuals in this field are at least 18, although that is not a requirement. However, some of a veterinary assistant’s duties may be restricted to legal adults, depending on the state where they are employed.
Many veterinary establishments provide on the job training for newly hired assistants. In this case, the employee is shown how to perform his or her duties and will gradually be entrusted with greater responsibility.
However, there are a number of veterinary assistant programs offered by community colleges and vocational training establishments.
These programs usually take about a year to complete and provide extensive formal training in this field.
In addition to preparing the student for employment in this field, a formal certificate of completion can drastically improve the student’s employment options.
The Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA)
While optional, obtaining an AVA credential from the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) can also improve the veterinary assistant’s professional opportunities, as such a credential demonstrates that the assistant is performing at a very high level.
In some cases, the veterinary assistant’s employer may require that all employees obtain this credential as a condition of their employment.
Vet Assistant Training In New York
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Job Options for Veterinary Assistants
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) currently estimates that there are over 74,600 veterinary assistants and laboratory caretakers who are currently employed in America.
That number is expected to increase to at least 81,700 by 2022, keeping pace with the job growth in other fields.
When job attrition due to retirement and other factors is taken into account, this field presents excellent opportunities for new and currently employed veterinary assistants alike.
Becoming a veterinary assistant can be an ideal choice for an individual who seeks to enter the veterinary field without being forced to obtain a costly license or credential.
In addition, this field can be used as a method to obtain experience as a veterinary worker before transitioning to another career such as a licensed veterinary technician.