Veterinary Technicians and a Career Filled with Appreciation


By Dr. Mark Hanks

I’ve been a veterinarian for 32 years, and during that time, veterinary technicians have been the lifeblood of every practice I’ve been part of. In the beginning, soon after graduating from veterinary school, I worked in a practice with 10 doctors. The tech in charge of surgery recommended the sutures that most of the other veterinarians were using. She talked me through my first neuter and, later, through my first fracture repair. She talked me down from the ledge when I was convinced my spay was bleeding and my neuter wasn’t recovering quickly enough, and when I dropped my first ovarian pedicle.

I’ve worked with techs who complimented me on my communication skills but also made sure I completed my notes. All these years later, I still get friendly – an appreciated – reminders from techs to make sure I complete my notes. I’ve worked with techs who brought their skills to the next level with continuing education, and others who burned out but then, thankfully, bounced back. I’ve cried with techs when we lost a patient that we had put all our hearts into.

Techs have suggested pain medicine at times when I may have overlooked them. And they’ve come to me with the news that a patient had taken a turn for the better or for the worse. We have cheered each other on in good times and consoled each other in bad times.

The role of the veterinary technician is constantly evolving; their responsibilities have widened as we have raised the bar on what we can accomplish using technology – along with our hearts. The journey for me has been one of togetherness. The challenges are always there, and although our bodies and spirits face obstacles caused by information overload, a pandemic, clients who expect more, and a skyrocketing need for veterinary care, we grow together.

To the techs who are new: your experience in the last few years has been an anomaly in veterinary medicine. Don’t worry – you will have the time again to take care of your patients, balance your personal life, and do the job you imagined you would do when you were a student. People value their pets like never before. This is a good problem to have! Once we get the current supply and demand imbalance corrected, it will feel better. But know one thing – we could not make this crazy thing called veterinary practice work without you. Period.