Veterinary technicians, or vet techs, are staff members in all veterinary offices. All vet techs require training and at least a two-year degree. Many vet tech programs are offered online, but all programs, whether online or traditional, will require the same set of classes. Vet techs are assistants to veterinarians and can take patient histories, provide treatment, dress wounds, assist in surgery, take X-rays and many other tasks.
Biology and Chemistry
All vet techs must take basic college level classes in biology and chemistry. These science classes are the foundations for many of the future classes that vet techs will take. Additionally, these classes will prepare the students academically for the rigorous scientific and academic work that will comprise their next two or three years of veterinary technician studies.
Animal Anatomy and Physiology
Domestic and farm animal anatomy and physiology are taken by veterinary technician students as a way of understanding the functions of organs, muscles, cells and tissues. A large emphasis is placed on learning the nervous system, reproductive system, cardiovascular system and digestive system of both large and small animals.
These courses focus on handling techniques for both small and large animals. Vet techs must learn about equipment used in veterinary offices, how to examine animals and how to groom cats and dogs. Animal nursing includes comforting scared animals, learning to deal with animals that have been abused, and learning to be comfortable with larger animals such as horses and cows.
Pharmacology & Anesthesiology
While vet techs cannot prescribe medications, they should have a basic understanding of the commonly prescribed medications given to animals. Students should have a knowledge of medication dosage, terminology, how to store pharmaceuticals and how different medications may be administered (i.e., orally, IV, shot, etc.) to the animals.
Parasitology and Pathology
Students learn the most common parasites and diseases affecting domestic and farm animals. Causes, prevention and treatment of parasitology and diseases are learned in these classes. Parasites and diseases affect farm and domestic animals differently due to the settings in which they live. It is important that vet tech students understand these differences, and can treat both farm and domestic animals when an illness occurs.
Radiology is used in veterinary practices often, and vet techs need to know how the equipment works and how to position animals appropriately, and they should have an understanding for when radiography should be used. These courses will address protection from radiation, how to develop radiographic scans and how to use different types of radiographic machines (i.e., X-ray, MRI, , Ultrasound and CT).
Animal Surgerical Techniques
Veterinary technicians learn operating room procedures, including anesthesiology of the animal and sterilization of equipment. Vet techs also learn what a surgical nurse does and how to prepare both the patient and the operating room for surgical procedures.
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