The best veterinary practices are built on strong veterinary health care teams. To build an exceptional team, you start with a college-educated, credentialed veterinary technician or a driven and enthusiastic person who is willing to pursue education and credentialing. Without a credentialed veterinary technician, veterinary practices are unlikely to achieve their full potential. Veterinary technicians elevate the standard of patient care, build client satisfaction, and improve their bottom line.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) names credentialed veterinary technicians among the essential members of a veterinary health care team, second only to the Veterinarian. The importance of their contribution is difficult to overstate.

To see how a credentialed professional can affect your practice, consider the impact that dental hygienists have on a dental practice. Most people expect that when they go to the dentist the doctor will spend only a few minutes with them. The rest of their care will be provided by a dental health care team made up of a receptionist, dental hygienist and dental assistants. These team members provide direct patient care and perform preliminary exams, enabling the dentist to spend time efficiently, doing what only the dentist is qualified to do.

The same is true of a credentialed veterinary technician in a veterinary practice. Hiring and properly utilizing a credentialed veterinary technician directly affects the bottom line. A study by the AVMA found that adding a credentialed veterinary technician to the veterinary health care team boosted the typical veterinarian's gross income by over $93,000.

Getting this kind of return from adding a single employee only works if you bring in the right person. In this case the right person is someone who has, or is planning to work towards, a AVMA-CVTEA accredited Veterinary Technician Degree and the associated credentialing.

How to properly utilize credentialed veterinary technicians

The key is to allow the veterinary technicians to do what they have been trained to do -- assist veterinarians and provide client education. With a credentialed veterinary technician taking on these responsibilities, veterinarians are freed up to do what they were trained to do -- diagnose, perform surgery, and prescribe medication.

Here are some ways you can utilize your credentialed veterinary technician to realize positive results across your organization:

  1. Client education during office visits. When veterinarians see animals for office visits, their time is best spent doing physical exams to diagnose and, if necessary, performing surgery or prescribing medications. They should leave follow-up information and client education to the credentialed veterinary technician. The veterinarian is able to move on to the next patient more quickly, enabling more patients to be seen each day.

    In addition, this division of labor means that each member of the veterinary health care team does the work he or she is trained and most qualified to do. Veterinary technicians can promote a high standard of care for the animals by taking the time to educate clients on preventative healthcare measures like vaccination, parasite control, surgical neutering, and healthy nutrition.

  2. Laboratory testing to inform diagnosis. Credentialed veterinary technicians can save veterinarians even more time in the diagnostic laboratory. While only a veterinarian can diagnose disease, credentialed veterinary technicians have the skills to perform a range of laboratory tests including: fecal exams, heartworm tests, blood work, urinalysis, X-rays, and even ultrasound tests if the practice is equipped for it. As a result, the veterinarian gains valuable diagnostic information without having to personally perform all of the testing.

    Because a college-educated, credentialed veterinary technician has been trained in diagnostic testing, the veterinarian can feel confident that tests will be performed correctly and with attention to detail.

  3. Patient treatment in clinics and hospitals.  For those patients who require direct nursing care, credentialed veterinary technicians can be invaluable. In the treatment room credentialed veterinary technicians administer injections, insert intravenous catheters and set up IV drips. They can also perform preanesthetic exams, induce and maintain anesthesia, and recover a patient from anesthesia. During surgery, they can assist the veterinarian, resulting in shorter surgery times and fewer complications. 

    For hospitalized patients, the veterinary technician takes on the responsibility of proper nursing care and patient monitoring. This allows the doctor to see more patients and work with more clients. 

Penn Foster graduate Dana Hannan assists in an orthopedic surgery on a dachshund

If veterinarians utilize their credentialed veterinary technicians well everyone benefits. The animals benefit because they get a higher standard of care with less wait time. Client owners benefit because they have healthier pets and a better understanding of how to keep their pets well. And the practice as a whole benefits because it becomes more profitable while improving quality and efficiency.

By hiring or supporting the training of credentialed veterinary technicians and utilizing them appropriately, your practice can help animals live better lives and owners be better educated about pet care, all while increasing revenue.

As a rule of thumb, each practice should strive to have at least two college-trained, credentialed veterinary technicians for every veterinarian. This ratio frees up the veterinarians to meet with as many patients as possible, while ensuring that every patient gets quality care and every client-owner gets the information they need to best care for their pets.

If you have members of your team with the drive and compassion to become exceptional veterinary technicians, and would like to start them on a path to earn their credential, contact Penn Foster's Veterinary Academy. We'll show you how to upskill your team with veterinary technician training that prepares motivated professionals for veterinary technician credentialing in your state.

Recommended for you: The Importance of the Veterinary Practice Manager: A Q&A with Dr. James Hurrell