A growing trend in the modern veterinary field is the creation of increasingly specialized sub-fields in order to improve the level of care provided to pets. This is due to the growing importance of high quality care to the pet owners, and the need for specialists to handle various types of exotic pets.
As a result, veterinary technician specialties in clinical practices have become an attractive path for veterinary technicians seeking to expand their career opportunities, whether they are newly graduated from a vet tech school or are experienced veterinary technicians.
Clinical Practices in the Veterinary Field
Veterinary clinical specialties refer to fields that focus on a specific type of animal. Currently, the three specialties available are canine/feline, exotic companion animal, and production animal. In each case, the technician is trained to effectively handle the unusual demands presented by the particular animal category.
This is important because different types of animals may have radically different requirements for their effective treatment. Even the simplest category, that of canine and feline pets, can involve a wider variety of conditions and breed specific disorders than any human patient will ever exhibit. In order to effectively treat these animals, the specialist must be prepared to handle problems ranging from the common to the exotic.
The Rise of Exotic Companion Animals
The growing popularity of exotic companion animals is another reason for rise of importance of veterinary technician specialties in clinical practice. Exotic companion animals can range from small mammals such as rabbits, hamsters, and gerbils, to birds and reptiles.
However, these pets pose a challenge to the veterinarian, as they have wildly differing living requirements, are prone to different diseases, and can rapidly sicken and die without effective diagnosis and treatment. Even the proper way to draw blood can vary from animal to animal, making effective training as a clinical specialist vital to ensure that the correct treatment is provided.
Production Animal Care
Production animals, such as cows, pigs, chickens or other animals used in the farming industry present their own unique challenges. Due to their close proximity to other animals, production animals can suffer from the sudden onset of contagious diseases. In addition, a clinical specialist in production animals often must make certain to maintain treatment records that conform to federal, state and local regulations.
Due to these requirements, a production animal specialist must be skilled in quickly evaluating and treating various forms of diseases, as well as attending to the general health of the animals. This is especially important for food animals, where poor health may render them unusable to the owner. In addition, the technician must be ready to advise and assist owners in ensuring that the animals are housed in comfortable and healthy enclosures.
Becoming a Clinical Practice Veterinary Technician
The wide range of skills required mean that becoming a clinical practice technician requires a large amount of preparation. The candidate must not only be able to carry out the duties of a veterinary technician, but must also be well versed in his or her specialty. The requirements for certification as a clinical practice veterinary technician include the following:
- The candidate must be a qualified veterinary technician in the United States, or provide proof that they are qualified to serve as a veterinary technician in another nation.
- The candidate must have five years of experience, with at least 10,000 hours, within ten years of applying for certification. At least 75 percent of this work experience must be in areas that are relevant to the clinical specialty the candidate is intending to work in.
- At least 40 hours of continuing vet tech school education in the candidate’s chosen clinical specialty. These hours must have been taken within the last five years.
- Five completed exam questions must be provided, written in such a way as to display the candidate’s understanding of his or her specialty.
- At least 50 case logs or in depth reports of individual cases that will demonstrate the candidate’s mastery of the relevant clinical skill sets. Due to the fact that not all case logs are accepted, it is considered wise to provide more than 50.
- Four case reports, providing in-depth evidence of the candidate’s skill in providing effective care, evaluating the needs of the animal, and effectively determining and carrying out a course of treatment.
- Two letters of recommendation from qualified veterinarians, attesting to the candidate’s skills and qualifications to become a clinical practice technician.
- After successfully providing the above, the candidate must pass a written examination to demonstrate his or her qualifications before becoming certificated as clinical practice veterinarian specialists.
Careers in Clinical veterinary Practice
As with most veterinary technical fields, the current and future career outlook for veterinary technicians specializing in clinical practices is very promising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts continued above average growth in the sector in terms of employment and long-term career options. Most importantly, the demand for clinical practice technicians continues to exceed the number of qualified candidates.
In today’s society, the importance placed on maintaining health and well-being of an animal has become more important than ever before. With many families treating their pets like another family member, the demand for the best pet care possible is unlikely to change in the future.
For organizations with production animals, effective clinical practice technicians can become the difference between a successful year and a year where avoidable disease wipes out company profits. Clinical practice veterinary technicians will therefore continue to be an important component of the modern veterinary practice no matter their specialty.
Finally, the clinical practice technician can lay claim to being part of a field that prevents disease, reduces the suffering of animals, and helps families keep their beloved companions alive and in good health. Whether treating an exotic reptile or helping a child’s pet, a qualified technician is an important and valued member of his or her community.