Hi all! I was talking to some friends of mine the other day about my day at work. As we chatted, it dawned on me that what a technician actually does in the clinic is a bit of a mystery to the outside world. It is even different from clinic to clinic and definitely depends on what state you are in (each state has their own laws on what we are and are not allowed to do). Currently, there is an effort to get our titles changed and to bring forward unified legislation across the country of what we may do.
In Indiana we are titled Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVT’s) when we have graduated from an accredited school and passed the national boards and state law exam. We may not diagnose, prognose, prescribe medication or a perform a surgical procedure. We may aid in all of these and often times relay these topics from the veterinarian to the owner, but we may not do them on our own.
At Creekside, a technician’s job varies day to day depending on where we are needed that day and which facility we are working. We rotate through a variety of technician positions as well as help out as reception and assistants as needed. At the hospital in the morning, technicians run surgery in the morning and help with appointments in the afternoon. At the Wellness Center, the technician handles client communications regarding lab work results, upcoming surgeries, and detailing report cards regarding past examinations. The tasks in the afternoon at both locations vary from a “float nurse” position, where we help the vets and their assistants with appointments, to running our own technician appointments where we provide basic medical services for our patients.
Let me share my day with you. While no 2 days are ever the same, they all have similarities.
7:10am – I show up and clock in. Staff has to be there prior to 7:15 so that we can prepare for the day and be ready for clients when the doors open at 7:30.
7:15am – Clinic huddle. Management runs a mini meeting at the start of the workday to bring us all up to speed on things that are happening through the day. It gets us all on the same page and focused on tasks at hand. They also go over who is working what position that morning, so we know who and where to go when we need help. Additionally, it gives us a chance to delegate any tasks that us technicians need help with first thing.
7:20am – Huddles never last more than 5 minutes. This morning, I’m working as a surgery nurse. This means I’m working under the “head tech” who coordinates the surgical schedule, works with the vet on the anesthetic protocol, maintains flow of the morning and later discharges the patients. My job is to be hands on and providing my patients care from intake to recover. The other surgery nurse is setting up the surgical suite, while I head off to take care of my hospitalized patient.
7:30am – My patient has been walked and basic vitals have been collected. I’ve left notes on their hospitalization board and rounded with the DVM on their case. Now it is time to check in my surgery patients.
8:00am – All surgery patients are here, checked in, basic vital taken, and pre-medication given. They are now resting comfortably in their cages as the sedation starts working. Our “surgery charge nurse” has gone over the mornings plan with us. Once our first patient is calm from the medication, we place their IV catheter and induce anesthesia. We spend the morning with our surgery patients. From catheter placement to surgery then to recovery, we are right by their side. We perform the anesthesia, prepare their surgical site, and open the surgical instruments for the DVM. Once surgery is over, we stay with the pet through their recovery period until the awake and resting comfortably.
12pm – Time to clean up the surgery room (not specifically noon, but whenever surgeries are completed). The room is completely broken down and cleaned. All instruments are thoroughly cleaned then put through the sterilizer. Laundry is run non-stop through the day. Thank goodness for our sweet clients that give us donations of left-over towels and bedding.
1:00pm – Lunch time! We get a 1-hour lunch break. Not only is this a time for us to eat, but to also rest and refocus our energy for the afternoon. Working in surgery is taxing on the body and mind.
2:00pm – Back to work. Today I am a pharmacy assistant. This means that it is my job to help the DVM and their assistant have a successful afternoon. For a single appointment, a staff member needs to: answer phones, take histories, collect patients from the vehicles, draw up vaccines, prepare preventions/medication refills, draw blood, restrain the patient, conclude the appointment (answer any owner questions, take payment) and return pet to the car. This is a lot for a single individual to do – so often the assistant and pharmacy assistant tag team appointments to keep the DVM going from one appointment to the next in a timely and efficient manner.
3:45pm – An emergency came in! Because I am an RVT, I got pulled from my pharmacy assistant position temporarily to help. We placed IV catheters, started IV fluids, gave emergency medications and stabilized the pet. With the pet stabilized, I left it in the hands of the charge nurse and DVM while I went back to my pharmacy assistant position.
5:15pm – The evening rush has started. Clients are getting off work and are wanting to pick up medications/food on their way home. Our days are busy all day, but currently after 5pm is the worst. Often we have more calls coming in than we have phones in the building.
6:00pm – Phones turn off and we are “closed”. We can start cleaning up. I fill the rest of the prescriptions that have been requested for pick up in the next couple days. Help my DVM and their assistant finish up their last appointment. Then I run to the treatment area to see if my charge nurse needs help.
6:15pm – All patients have finished their appointments and gone home. I head up to reception to make sure their end of day is coming out ok. Yay! All is good.
6:20pm – I do my rounds to all other locations in the building. Assistants good? (all cleaning done, medications filled, bloodwork sent on its way to the lab for over night testing, all extra tasks they have done) Reception good? (already checked end of day, but all cleaning done, counters organized). Technicians good? (hospitalized patients bedded down for the night, surgery set up for next day). Finally, DVM’s good? (any notes I need to leave for tomorrow, last minute calls to patients that weren’t able to be done during business hours, help with anything else).
6:30pm – Yay! I’m leaving. While we always aim for “doors closed at 6 and leaving shortly thereafter”, we often work til 6:30pm. Today was a busy one, but I thrive on the fast pace and variety that Creekside provides. The client base and their pets are great, and I love my coworker family. While Covid-19 and the challenges it has brought have certainly changed some things, I still look forward to coming in every day to care for my patients. Since starting here 10 years ago, I haven’t worked a single day!
This was just a “drive by” glimpse of what a general day is for me. It would take a mini novel for you to see the intricate daily details of what us technicians do at Creekside. We all love to share our job and passion for animals. Feel free to reach out to any one of us if you want to know more!