Today it is likely that pets are more treasured than at any previous time in history.
They are the beloved companions of young and old alike, and many families see their pets as family members, not possessions.
Due to this, many owners demand the best possible care for their pets, leading to a level of veterinary care that is very similar to the medical care received by the owners themselves.
It is for this reason that veterinary technician specialties such as internal medicine have become so central to the modern veterinarian’s practice.
Internal Medicine and the Veterinary Profession
Internal medicine relates to the treatment and diagnosis of diseases, chronic conditions and other issues that can influence the long and short-term health of the pet. Among the subfields of internal medicine is oncology (the study and treatment of cancer) and cardiology (the treatment of heart and circulatory problems).
- Extracting and testing blood and biopsy samples to diagnose infections and chronic ailments.
- Determining whether or not the circulatory, immune or digestive systems of the animal are in good condition and if not, what is the underlying cause of the health condition.
- Diagnosing both bacterial and viral infections and administering treatments to cure or moderate the illness.
- Developing long-term treatment plans, especially for chronic health problems and instructing the owners of a pet in how to best treat their animal once it leaves the direct care of the veterinarian.
- Assisting owners with ensuring the best possible end of life care and comfort for aging and ill pets. This often includes determining what type of diet will best fit the pet’s particular circumstances and providing medication to reduce or eliminate discomfort.
- Effectively communicating with co-workers and the owners of pets that are under his or her care. This also requires the ability to discuss painful subjects with owners in a sensitive and caring way, while informing them of all of their options.
In addition to the above duties, a veterinary internal medicine technician faces unique challenges.
Unlike humans, pets cannot effectively communicate the nature of their discomfort.
In fact, in many cases, their owners may not even realize that the animal is suffering from any illness until the condition is far advanced.
This can be especially damaging for conditions such as cancer, where early treatment is vital.
Finally, internal medicine technicians must be prepared to handle a wide variety of animals.
Where an internal medicine specialist working with humans only deals with the biology of a single species, a veterinarian technician specializing in internal medicine must be skilled in evaluating many different species and illnesses.
This makes it imperative that internal medicine technicians be well acquainted with a variety of species, both common and exotic.
In many cases internal medicine technicians will also be heavily involved in administering and evaluating tests performed as a part of the routine examination of an animal.
By diagnosing diseases before they become severe or untreatable, these tests can radically increase the lifespan of a pet.
Becoming a Veterinary Technician in Internal Medicine
Due to the wide variety of conditions, diseases and species an internal medicine specialist will face, the training required to become one is extensive.
Candidates for certification must have a wide variety of experience, in addition to obtaining a continuing education from vet tech schools.
The Requirements For Certification as a Veterinary Internal Medicine Technician
- Have at least three years and 6,000 hours worth of direct experience in the internal medicine veterinary field. At least 75 percent of this time must be spent conducting duties that are directly related to internal medicine.
- Have at least 40 hours of continuing education from a qualified vet tech school. This education must be in the field of internal medicine, and must be completed within five years of applying for certification.
- Provide at least 50 case logs, displaying the technician’s skill in diagnosing and treating problems relating to internal medicine. As not all case logs will be approved, a candidate should consider completing more than 50 case logs.
- At least four in depth case reports, selected from the case logs previously prepared. These must be detailed and extensive discussions of the cases, demonstrating advanced knowledge of the conditions and treatments used.
- At least two letters of recommendation from veterinarians specializing in internal medicine, who can attest to the candidate’s fitness to practice in this field.
- Three exam questions must be submitted by the candidate to the certification agency. These questions will be related to his or her specialty within the field of internal medicine, and are used to demonstrate the candidate’s knowledge of the field.
Once all of these requirements have been completed, the candidate can take the comprehensive credentialing examination.
Upon the successful completion of the exam, the candidate is now a credentialed veterinary technician specializing in internal medicine.
Career Opportunities For Internal Medicine Technicians
The rising demand for high-quality medical care for pets has resulted in a growing demand for skilled technicians.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has confirmed that veterinary technicians will continue to be in demand in the modern job market.
In fact, the field of veterinary internal medicine continues to grow at a rate exceeding the number of qualified technicians that are credentialed in any given year.
In addition, by becoming a veterinary technician specializing in internal medicine, an individual also becomes part of a vital community service.
By assisting in the care of beloved family pets, the technician not only provides a concrete service, but also can provide emotional assistance to families that are dealing with a health condition or illness that endangers their pet.