What is the difference between a Veterinarian, Veterinary Technologist, Veterinary Technician, and Veterinary Assistant?
Persons with varying degrees of educational experience staff the Veterinary Hospital. Tasks performed in the hospital to provide animal care should be assigned to persons with appropriate education/training to ensure a positive outcome for the patient. There may be times when an employee may be asked to work at a level below their expertise, but in keeping with the philosophy of quality animal care, the opposite should not take place.
The Veterinarian is solely responsible for diagnosing, developing a prognosis, prescribing medication and performing surgery. They are ultimately responsible for all patient care and outcomes. Most Veterinarians apply for veterinary medical school admission while obtaining a bachelor degree in a compatible field. If accepted into a veterinary medical school the course of study usually takes another four years, making that a grand total of eight years of schooling. Every state requires a veterinarian to take and pass a licensing exam. Successful candidates are given a license to practice veterinary medicine.
The Veterinary Technician/Technologist is educated to be the veterinarian’s nurse, laboratory technician, radiography technician, anesthetist, surgical nurse and client educator. Many veterinary technicians/technologists are placed in a supervisory role in veterinary practices, research institutions and in other areas of employment. A Veterinary Technician is a graduate from a two year, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited program from a community college, college or university. A Veterinary Technologist has graduated from a four year AVMA accredited bachelor degree program. Almost every state requires a veterinary technician/technologist to take and pass a credentialing exam. Passing this exam ensures the public that the veterinary technician has entry level knowledge of the duties they are asked to perform in the veterinary clinic or hospital. Click on the Credentialing button for further information about becoming credentialed.
A Veterinary Technician/Technologist Specialist has met the same requirements as above plus spends about 75?f their time doing a specific task and has passed a specialist certification exam administered by a Specialist Academy. Currently there are three academies offering specialty certification. To learn more about specialty certification go to the NAVTA web stie and click on Career Building.
The Veterinary Assistant may have training through a high school, a college certificate program, or through a distance learning program over the Internet. Most however are trained on the job by the veterinarian or the veterinary technician. Their role is to assist the veterinarian or the veterinary technician in their daily tasks as well as in some basic set-up of equipment and cleaning of key areas in the clinic like the surgery suite. Some may be asked to do kennel cleaning and janitorial work as well. There is no credentialing exam for the veterinary assistant.