National Veterinary Technician Week, October 13-19, provides a special opportunity to recognize the critical contributions of veterinary technicians, who are a key part of patients’ expert care team at UW Veterinary Care, the teaching hospital of the School of Veterinary Medicine.
Expertly trained to perform tests, procedures and treatments, UW Veterinary Care’s technicians are certified by the state and complete required continuing education to maintain certification and learn the latest in patient care. In addition to certified veterinary technicians, we are proud to also have technicians who are nationally recognized as veterinary technician specialists in their areas of expertise.
Along with our broad range of board-certified specialists, these important members of the UW Veterinary Care team provide optimal care for animals of all kinds. Below, certified veterinary technicians from a range of services in the hospital share their perspectives on their work and profession.
What would you most want people to know about veterinary technicians?
We are trained professionals. We care about their pet and are their voice — speaking up for them to the clinicians and letting them know that we think they are uncomfortable, painful, nauseous, etc. –Jen Gall, Critical Care Unit/Emergency Room
What I wish most people understood was that we are essentially veterinary nurses and no, we don’t want to be doctors. –Sara Branton, Anesthesia
Veterinary technicians have a wide range of roles within a hospital and clinic — from receptionist, phlebotomist, anesthetist, pharmacist, radiology technician, lab technician and support staff to owners. –Leah Krawczyk, Small Animal Internal Medicine
We are a dedicated, compassionate and misunderstood profession. … The veterinary industry is underpaid as a whole, and the technicians are no exception. We are all in the profession for the love of it and not for the money. –Sandra Eklof, Anesthesia
What are some of the most important things you do?
Patient care and comfort is our number one concern. We try our best to speak for our patients and interpret their emotions and needs. -Eklof
I keep the large animal surgery suites up and running, maintain all of the equipment, and stock everything so that the students and surgeons only have to walk in, scrub and perform their surgeries so the animals have as minimal time as possible under anesthesia. –Annie Witt, Morrie Waud Large Animal Hospital
Take care of each and every patient as if they were our own — from comfort items like beds and blankets, toys, and tasty treats, to stimulation like walks outside and touch therapy. -Krawczyk
What are some of your favorite parts of your job?
Talking to the variety of pet owners, all unique in their certain ways, and trying to get on the same page with them and relate to them. Being the go-between of the clinician, the animal and the client — an important job! –Charisma Chadwick, Special Species
My favorite part of working in the Oncology service is getting to know our patients while they are receiving their treatments. We often have dogs or cats that are with us for almost a month for radiotherapy and we become very attached to them while they’re here! I love seeing their progress as they complete their protocols. It’s wonderful seeing them thrive after getting a scary diagnosis like cancer and knowing I helped them become more comfortable and live happier lives. –Abigail Jones, Radiation and Medical Oncology
I work in anesthesia so we look at the whole picture of what is going on with the patient to make the decision of how we can safely perform anesthesia and have a good outcome. Many owners have concerns about anesthesia so being able to provide very individualized patient care is satisfying. –Karen Majerus, Anesthesia and Pain Management
I love seeing the animals feel better over their time at the hospital. Getting to know each patient’s personality and quirks is fun. -Eklof, Anesthesia
Watching very sick animals turn the corner and become well enough to go home. Also getting an animal that has not been eating for a number of days to finally eat! -Gall
Working with various different breeds of large animals and a wide range of species, especially those not commonly thought of as large animals. -Witt
Seeing how excited patients get to see their owners during or after being hospitalized (especially when they know which room their family is in before we even open the door!). And being part of a team that figures out what’s going on with a patient whose diagnosis has been unknown or untreated. So rewarding to hear how we helped the patients and their family’s quality of life! -Krawczyk
Is there something specific to UW Veterinary Care that you especially enjoy about working here?
The wide variety of experiences that staff, technicians, residents, interns and faculty bring together. There are so many amazing minds coming together from unique places all over the world to help patients each and every day. UW Veterinary Care is such a great place to learn about new treatments, procedures, studies and therapies, many of which are being developed under our own roof! -Krawczyk
The veterinary profession is constantly improving. I feel like I work with some of the brightest minds here and I learn something new or see a new procedure almost every day. I also enjoy working with the students. -Majerus
I love working with the highest-quality medicine around and teaching that to new nurses, interns and students. -Gall
The staff here in Special Species and the hospital in general are like family. We all work so very hard at what we do and it is ultimately for the animals. We all have been in so many of the same situations and learn so much from one another, as well as the animals and our clients. -Chadwick
I love the variety of species we work with and the advanced techniques we perform here. The standard of care is impeccable, and I am constantly learning here. -Eklof
How can we help to promote and support your profession?
By understanding that a veterinary technician is similar to a human nurse; we have years of training and schooling to do what we do well and continue our education every year to keep our licensing. -Krawczyk
Getting recognition for what we do — a ton of complicated patient care every day, 24/7. -Majerus