Veterinarians and veterinary technicians are at the heart of Pawp, providing pets with the care and attention they need to live their best lives.
Today, we're chatting with Julie Burgess, a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT) at Pawp, and one of the many faces behind the camera and keyboard—whether at 3 p.m. or 3 a.m.
Julie will give you an overview of what a Certified Veterinary Technician is, what they do, and how they can help you.
12 things Certified Veterinary Technicians want you to know
A chat with Julie Burgess, LVT at Pawp
1. What is a CVT/LVT/RVT?
A CVT, RVT, and an LVT mean the same thing with slightly different wording. A CVT is a Certified Veterinary Technician, an RVT is a Registered Veterinary Technician, and an LVT is a Licensed Veterinary Technician. The titles vary by state, but all mean a veterinary professional with a similar role in human medicine, only we're nurses for pets!
2. How can you become a CVT/RVT or LVT?
First, we love animals, because sometimes they can be messy and we want to offer them the best care possible.
CVT/LVT/RVT must go to an accredited school that can take 2-3 years to complete. And, just like with any school, we must find the right fit.
School is expensive! The average cost of veterinary technician programs is $20,000 per year, which doesn't include books, scrubs, etc.
After the exams and tests are over, we must also complete 400 hours of an unpaid internship. Most hospitals and veterinary clinics require 40 hours per week for ten weeks.
3. Job outlook
Fortunately, plenty of jobs are available now, primarily because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many families decided to adopt pets, shelters and rescues emptied, and veterinary hospitals filled up.
However, there's a nationwide shortage right now, and it can be challenging to find people.
Many hospitals and veterinary clinics have a low hourly rate, often below minimum wage in some states.
Many technicians often moonlight at various jobs, especially at first.
4. Job requirements
Working in a clinic or veterinary hospital is very demanding because:
We're on our feet all-day
We're walking on hard floors
We're prepping animals for surgery
We're picking up large dogs from the floor to be examined or for an x-ray
We're working with pets who may be scared or fearful
Pawp is an excellent way for CVTs/LVTs and RVTs to use their skills to help pet parents and pets without working in clinics or veterinary hospitals.
5. Pawp – telehealth at its finest
In my opinion, telehealth is one of the best things that rose from the pandemic. The Pawp platform offers pet parents advice, makes recommendations, and provides suggestions for many questions we get daily.
The nationwide shortage of CVTs means there aren't enough team members to take care of questions, concerns, and problems as quickly as they'd like. Luckily, Pawp can fill in the gaps.
6. Years of experience
Many RVTs are in this field as their lifetime career, which is true for vet professionals at Pawp. Many of our LVTs have more than ten years of experience and are well-versed in taking care of various questions, concerns, or situations that arise. We thoroughly enjoy helping people and their pets!
7. Job roles
What are some of the responsibilities that an LVT has?
Plenty! All of us are multitaskers. Here are some of the roles we take on daily:
Phlebotomist (blood draws)
And much more!
8. Continuing education
Registered Veterinary Technicians must take courses to continue their education. Continuing education hours vary, but most states have at least a 10-hour a year minimum. Fortunately, there are many opportunities online for us to complete our CE requirements.
9. Our pets
Many technicians I know have multiple pets, at least three if not more. Many of us adopt pets from our workplace when pet parents can't take care of their pets and want or need to put them down.
Do we have to do this?
You might say no, of course not. For us, as LVTs, we want to help as many animals as possible and almost always make room for one more.
10. Foster failures
We, as RVTs, often get roped into "fostering" animals. Fostering gives pets a good home until they find their "furever" home. Almost everyone I know has at least a few foster failures because it's challenging to have animals leave when you've cared for them for months or even years.
11. Project animals
Almost every technician I know either has or has had a project animal. What do I mean by a project animal? One who needs extra care medically, and sometimes behaviorally, too. I've personally adopted animals that have had megaesophagus (enlarged esophagus), separation anxiety and severe anxiety, and a pet with a missing foot.
Did we have to adopt these pets? No. But if we know we can help, it can be hard not to. For example, my pet Annie came home with me for good once I learned more about her disease.
Here's some of what Annie required:
Special food blended into an oatmeal consistency
My wife or I sat with Annie, with her paws on our shoulders for 15 minutes after eating. This way, the food had the best chance of getting into her stomach.
X-rays frequently to determine if Annie had pneumonia
IV fluids and iv antibiotics (for bad cases of aspiration pneumonia – this is when food accidentally got into her lungs)
Oral antibiotics (for less severe cases of aspiration pneumonia)
Feeding 4-6 small meals/daily
12. Mental health
The veterinary profession can be extremely tough on both mental and physical health. In fact, the veterinary community has one of the highest suicide rates nationwide.
It is tough to work many hours per week, disappointing pet parents when they don't hear what they'd like and presenting expensive treatment plans.
But, we love your animals and our jobs, and sometimes our jobs become who we are.
When we reach the age where we're no longer able to work in a clinic or hospital, it's gratifying to be part of Pawp, where we can still help people and pets from our homes.
We love your pets
Being a CVT is challenging at times and one of the most rewarding jobs I've ever had.
Sleepless nights and continuing thinking about your job at the end of your shift are challenging.
We appreciate the opportunity to be a nurse to animals, provide advice, and make recommendations. That's why you see many LVTs with careers that span decades.