What’s It Really Like to Be a Veterinary Assistant?

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If you love animals, it makes sense that a veterinary assistant career might be a good option for you. But before you pursue it as a full-out career, do some research. Find out what you could expect in the role and whether it’s something you’d really enjoy.

Here’s what it’s really like to be a veterinary assistant:

You Provide Direct Care To The Animals

One aspect of the job that you’ll probably love is that you will have a lot of contact with animals. In a veterinary assistant job, you’ll have one-on-one time with animals, or will work with the veterinarian to complete various tasks. You may need to:

  • Trim the animal’s nails
  • Draw blood
  • Administer medications, immunizations, and anesthesia
  • Take vital signs
  • Provide first aid care
  • Give the animal food and water

You Have Various Office Duties

As a veterinary assistant, a lot of your work may be done behind a desk rather than in an exam room. You might be responsible for important parts of helping the practice run smoothly. You may:

  • Greet and check in patients and their owners
  • Send bills
  • Accept and record payments
  • File patient charts
  • Answer phones
  • Schedule appointments and send reminders
  • Take inventory
  • Order and organize supplies

You Need To Have Empathy And Keep Animals — And Their Owners — Calm

For a lot of people, their pets are as much family members as the humans are. This means that when they bring a sick or injured pet to the vet, they may be stressed or upset. Add to that that the animal is probably scared because they don’t know where they are or what’s going on. As a veterinary assistant, part of your job will be to know how to calm an animal down as much as possible. You may also need to put their owners at ease and reassure them that their pet is in good hands.

You Need To Be A Good Communicator

When a patient and their owner first arrives, you’ll need to get as much relevant information as possible about the pet’s condition. Maybe they can’t keep food down. When did that start? Or maybe they are limping. Does the owner know why? They’ll probably explain things in layman’s terms and you will have to know how to put that information into the animal’s chart or clearly relay it to the veterinarian.

There will also be times when you need to pass along information from the doctor to the animal’s owner and you will need to know how to process technical information to break it down in a way that someone without your training can easily understand.

You Clean And Sterilize A Lot

As a veterinary assistant, you’ll probably clean kennels that hold animals for treatment and clean up messes they make in the office. In addition to that, a key part of your job will be to clean and sterilize medical tools, equipment and exam or surgical areas after procedures to prevent the spread of diseases and infections.

It’s Not All Happy

Unfortunately, not all animals who come to your veterinary office will head back home. Sometimes, you’ll have to assist the veterinarian with the euthanization of an animal and disposal of the body. This is a time when it will be important for you to maintain your composure and show compassion to the pet’s owner, even though you might feel upset too.

If this aspect of the job concerns you, remember that the good usually outweighs the sad! No matter what, every day you get to help animals in need.

If you want a meaningful career and think veterinary assisting may be the ideal job for you, contact Charter College today.  Our Veterinary Assistant Training program in Vancouver, WA and Oxnard, CA will prepare you for a career that allows you to work with animals, from pets to livestock to wildlife. It even includes a 180-hour externship so you can gain some real-world experience.