Becoming a great veterinary technician often demands more than simply learning the mechanical aspects of the profession. A vet tech must have a wide range of interpersonal skills in order to truly excel at his or her duties. This is especially true given how many veterinary technicians regularly interact with their coworkers, superiors and the general public.
In fact, a vet tech who possesses the skills needed to effectively deal with other people can dramatically improve both the overall environment and productivity of the clinic or business where he or she works.
Even when an individual is not directly in charge of other employees, effective leadership skills are a vital part of remaining a productive and popular component of the veterinary practice. Leadership skills do not simply involve telling others what to do, but the ability to act in a proactive manner in order to resolve situations before they become an issue. In fact, one of the signs of an excellent leader is the ability to maintain control over a situation without his or her actions being obvious to others.
Proactively Solving Problems
Leaders do not react to problems, but proactively work to solve them ahead of time. A vet tech with excellent leadership skills will be focused on predicting potential issues and determining how to deal with them well before they become a problem for the practice as a whole.
This can range from bringing scheduling conflicts to the attention of the supervising veterinarian to devising a more efficient inventory control system. In every case, a vet tech with high leadership skills can help the practice save money and time by addressing these issues in a prompt and effective manner.
Mentoring and Guiding Less Experienced Employees
In many cases, experienced vet techs may be assigned to work with new vet techs, veterinary assistants or volunteer help. By demonstrating leadership in these roles, the vet tech can become a central component of any practice based training program.
They can provide training materials to their fellow employees while evaluating their skills in order to determine what areas need improvement.
Most importantly, individuals with effective leadership skills can carry out their duties in a way that does not embarrass or discourage their fellow workers.
This can be especially important in those areas where vet techs do not have to be licensed by the state. In many cases, practices in those regions may choose to hire individuals without any formal training, leaving it to the veterinary staff, including more experienced vet techs, to provide on the job training for the newly hired individual.
Because of this, exhibiting strong leadership and educational skills when training these newly hired individuals can be vital to ensuring that they become a credit to the veterinary field.
For those vet techs who have been placed in a position of authority over other employees, strong leadership skills are vital to maintaining the productivity of the clinic. The ability to create an acceptable employee work schedule, to balance the needs of the staff with the demands of the practice and to communicate issues to higher management is key to maintaining a smoothly running practice. This is especially true in larger veterinary practices or research labs, where a supervising vet tech may have a large number of subordinates under his or her authority.
Emotional Intelligence and the Vet Tech
The veterinary practice can be a very stressful occupation. In many cases, an animal’s life can depend on the decisions made by the veterinary staff, while in other cases, the veterinarian and vet tech must convey the sad news to a grieving owner that there is nothing to be done for their beloved companion animal. Because of this, emotional intelligence and perceptivity can be the mark of a truly great vet tech.
Emotional Intelligence and Coworkers
Because of the stresses that are often present in the field of veterinary medicine, it is easy for employees to become over stressed, often without even recognizing it. This can lead to short tempers or in some cases, reduce their ability to effectively carry out their duties.
By being able to notice such stresses, a skilled vet tech can intervene, perhaps by suggesting that the coworker should take his or her break early. In other cases, if the stress is being caused by a distinct situation, the vet tech can help share the burden, thereby reducing the stress of the coworker.
Finally, if necessary, an emotionally perceptive vet tech can bring potential issues to the attention of his or her superiors in a way that does not create hard feelings among the rest of the staff. This can be a vital part of being able to maintain a smoothly functioning and pleasant office environment.
Emotional Intelligence and the Customer
In many cases, those individuals using the services of a veterinarian are experiencing a great deal of stress. Many people see their pets as family members and facing the danger that the pet may be seriously ill or in danger of dying can be deeply traumatizing.
In these cases, the vet tech must be able to obtain the information needed to effectively treat the animal while also behaving in a caring and understanding way to the pet’s owner. This can be especially difficult if the owner is a child who may be experiencing the trauma of seeing a seriously ill or injured “family member” for the very first time in his or her life.
Additionally, the vet tech must have the emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills to provide the advice and support an individual needs when making difficult decisions without overriding the owner’s own judgment. By doing so, they can help the owner come to a decision that is appropriate for themselves and their pet alike.
All of a vet tech’s professional skills are useless unless they can effectively communicate with their superiors, coworkers and clients. This is especially important in the veterinary field, as many situations demand the ability to quickly and accurately relay information to the veterinarian during an emergency situation.
A skilled vet tech can not only relay the information to the vet, but can understand what information is vital and what information is extraneous to the current situation.
The vet tech must be able to quickly inform the veterinarian or any coworkers of the situation, and do so in a clear and understandable manner. In addition, the vet tech must be able to use all veterinary terms in an accurate way in order to avoid the danger of a misunderstanding.
Even during an emergency surgery or other stressful event, the vet tech must continue to speak clearly and accurately.
When writing reports or notes, the vet tech must be able to make them concise, informative and accurate. In addition, even in this era of email and instant messaging the vet tech must possess superior penmanship so that any handwritten notes are intelligible.
This can be especially important when relaying requests for medication or the vet’s diagnosis of an animal’s medical condition. In these cases, the ability to accurately relay the information can quite literally be a matter of life and death.
Record-Keeping and Filing Skills
Finally, a vital part of communication in any veterinary office is the ability to create accurate reports and file them appropriately. The vet tech should be fully aware of any office policies and ensure that his or her reports comply with those policies. This can be especially important in larger practices where an animal may be treated by a number of different veterinary workers.
Ultimately, a great vet tech must learn a wide range of skills that at first glance have little to do with the provision of veterinary care to America’s animal companions. However, by learning superior leadership, communication and emotional skills, a vet tech can provide excellent service, not simply to his or her coworkers, but to the owners who have entrusted the veterinary practice with the care of their beloved pets.