Where Are You Headed?
There are many different options for employment out there for veterinary technicians.
As we mentioned last time, you may work for a lab, a zoo, an industry partner, a wildlife refuge, a university, or several different types of animal hospitals, just to name a few.
By far, the most common place for a veterinary technician to work is in companion animal practice. This can also be called “general practice”, to differentiate the facility from an emergency or specialty practice.
Yet even within general veterinary practice, there are options for your career and possibilities for your advancement. It seems all too often someone tires or burns out of veterinary medicine, and being unable to visualize a different type of existence within veterinary practice, they consider moving outside the profession. There are many reasons why we come to feel we have reached this dead end, which will be discussed in future blogs. Today we want to look at how to transform that dead end in to a crossroads, where you have the power to decide your future and stay within veterinary practice.
The first step is to discover your specific interests within the profession. Look back at why you entered veterinary medicine in the first place. This may mean thinking back quite a few years, to your youth when you were just figuring out how to answer, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Were you inspired by helping to raise litters of cats or dogs when you were young? Did you always wonder why your family pets seemed to succumb to old age, without really understanding why they died? Did you experience the human-animal bond with your pets in the most meaningful way, and decide that you wanted to help preserve that relationship for others who loved animals? This step may take some soul-searching, but you may find a gem or two from taking this path.
Next, focus on your education and experience; what really excited you? In school, did you love doing the surgeries, but dread working with the radiology machine? Did you find pleasure in working with laboratory equipment, but grimaced when it was your turn to perform a dental prophy? Additionally, what classes did you excel, and which ones were tough for you to finish…you grades may be a good indication of your talent and interest. If you worked in a veterinary setting before or while going to school, where in the practice did you tend to gravitate? Was it routine for you to ask someone to swap doing lab work for the opportunity to have more time educating the pet owner? Were you one who had a particularly affinity for the babies and youngsters that came in as patients, or did you love to help the geriatric dogs and cats live longer lives? Think about what excited you when you glanced over the schedule for the day. Focus on what drew you out of bed and into scrubs every morning, the opportunity to do ______ ?
Now ask others you trust for their input. This could be schoolmates, coworkers, or both. Ask them what they perceive as your favorite tasks. If you’ve asked them to swap with you in the past, they’ll have a clue about what it is you like to do, and what you do not like to do. Do you offer to take over their duties in ICU so they can go load exam rooms with appointments? When do they see you in a good mood, and what tasks seem to make you grumpy? Do they like to be around you when you’re working with patients and having fun, but avoid you when it’s time for you to monitor inventory or place orders?
So the first step is for you to take inventory, per se, on your own interests and joys. Spend a few weeks on this process, using all the different methods above. Start jotting down specific thoughts as they come to you (keep a notepad and pen handy!). Really invest in this process so that you can begin to lay down a path for the future from this information. You’ll stay in veterinary medicine if you can pursue your interests, your talents, and your successes. Next we’ll talk about what to do with this information!