Who Cares for Your Pet?

How well do you know the veterinary health care team that cares for your pet? The team is made up of the veterinarian, certified veterinary technician, veterinary assistant, receptionist, and accounts personnel.

In the human medical field there are a variety of health care workers that perform specific tasks. It is the same in the veterinary field. In many private veterinary practices, some individuals perform dual roles, but the veterinarian and certified veterinary technician are the only ones who are required to go to school to learn about veterinary medicine. The average length of education for a veterinarian is 7-8 years (more if they specialize), and 2-4+ years for a certified veterinary technician.

In Wisconsin, the veterinarian must take and pass state and national examinations to be given a license of veterinary medicine, which is renewed every 2 years. Education consists of preferably an undergraduate (BS) degree in an animal related science, and 4 years of veterinary medical school (University of Wisconsin - Madison is currently the only AVMA accredited veterinary school in Wisconsin) followed by the state and national exams. Currently, veterinarians must maintain 30 hours of mandatory continuing education every 2 years and certified veterinary technicians are required to have 15 hours of continuing education every 2 years.

Certified Veterinary Technicians attain this title only after passing the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). If the CVT wants to be certified with the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association. To be qualified to sit for this exam one can attain an AS (2 year) or BS (4 year) degree in veterinary technology, or attend a private vocational college and obtain a certificate of veterinary technology. These programs must be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) Committee on Veterinary Technicians Education and Activities (CVTEA). Once the veterinary technician has passed the VTNE, s/he doesn't need to retake that exam UNLESS the certification is allowed to lapse for an extended period of time. Upon passing the VTNE the CVT obtains a certificate, which must be renewed every 2 years.

In Wisconsin, being a CVT is voluntary. This allows a large amount of latitude between veterinary practices. A Veterinary Technician is an individual who is knowledgeable in the care and handling of animals, in the basic principles of normal and abnormal life processes, and in the routine laboratory and animal care procedures. S/he is primarily the right hand to veterinarians, biological researches and other scientists. The Veterinary Technician is to assist in the practice of veterinary medicine under the direction, supervision, and responsibility of a licensed veterinarian, and in compliance to State and Federal laws. CVTs are NOT allowed to perform the following: diagnosis or prognosis of disease; prescription of medications; changing of a prescribed order of a licensed veterinarian; practice of surgery .

CVTs ARE allowed to perform the following under the direction of a Wisconsin licensed veterinarian:
  • Dental prophylaxis
  • Preparation & administration of pharmacological and biological agents
  • Surgical preparation and assisting Laboratory procedures (performing diagnostic tests, etc)
  • Animal nursing
  • Radiology and other imaging procedures
  • Local & general anesthesia administration & monitoring
  • Obtaining and recording of information of cases Dietary management of patients
  • Application of wound dressings
  • In cases of emergency, they may administer such life saving treatments as set forth by the veterinarian in an established protocol
The veterinary assistant is the proper, legal term for any other personnel working with the animals in veterinary medicine (in accordance with the AVMA's definition of 'veterinary technician'.) These people are essential for assisting the DVMs and CVTs in the daily procedures in a private practice. They may perform tasks under the direct supervision of a DVM or CVT.

Receptionists and accounts personnel are essential in the functioning of the hospital as a whole. They are the people you see first, last, and each time you visit the hospital. They help the flow of patients and organize the scheduling so the rest of the team can have the time to care for and treat your pets.

The Veterinary Health Care Team works together to provide the best health care available to your pet and hopefully provide you with a veterinary facility that meets and exceeds your goals for your pet's best interest.