What Are The Pros And Cons Of Being A Veterinary Assistant?

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Many children and young people grow up wanting to be a veterinarian, but so often are intimidated by the amount of schooling it requires as well as the college debt.

So, is there a way to work in the veterinary field without having to spend years in school and spend thousands of dollars?

That’s where being a Veterinary Assistant comes in!

By Allison Salonko.

Allison is a Veterinary Technician in the state of Indiana. She graduated from International Business College and Vet Tech Institute of Indianapolis with a degree in Animal Science and Technology in 2011.

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If you’re interested in being a Veterinary Assistant, it’s important that you first understand the responsibilities and roles of being one, as well as the pluses and minuses of the job.

Read further to find out the pros and cons of being a Vet Assistant.

What Is A Veterinary Assistant?

As a Veterinary Technician myself, I’ve met and worked with a lot of rockstar assistants.

Their value is important and they are a key part of the team as well as the Doctors and Techs.

But first, let’s clear up the difference between a Veterinary Technician and a Veterinary Assistant because while they work very closely together, they are not quite the same thing.

A Veterinary Assistant is someone who is informally trained and has only received on-the-job training working at shelters, rescues or small animal clinics.

No schooling or degree is required to be a Veterinary Assistant.

A Veterinary Technician is someone who is formally trained with either an Associates or a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary science and technology and they are also credentialed.

Depending on the state they are licensed in, they will be recognized as a Certified (CVT), Licensed (LVT) or Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT).

What Are The Duties Of A Veterinary Assistant?

A Veterinary Assistant will often work closely and perform similar tasks that the Veterinary Technician does.

However, they will typically do more restraining, running labs and more minor duties, allowing the Technician to focus more on the treatments, surgery, blood collecting and client education.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of The Vet Assistant Job?

Being a Veterinary Technician, nor a Veterinary Assistant is a glorious job.

They both will have to work very hard physically and mentally to hack it in the veterinary field.

It is important to realize that working with animals is not an easy job and it is definitely a labor of love.

Pros Of Being A Veterinary Assistant

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to scare you off. It’s just important to me that people are informed of the reality of the job.

While being a Veterinary Assistant (or any veterinary professional for that matter) is difficult, it is still a passion and something that many of us still find rewarding, even after years of being in the field.

No school, no debt 

A big highlight in my opinion. Who doesn’t like that?

No license, no CE 

CE stands for continuing education, which both Veterinarians and Technicians have to have in order to keep their licenses. Going to these conferences to obtain CE can be time consuming and expensive.

Less responsibility 

The job is a little less stressful than the Technician, focusing more on restraint and obtaining patient histories and doing more minor tasks.

Still working with animals

Assistants still get to spend their day working with animals and nursing them back to health.

Cons Of Being A Veterinary Assistant

Pretty much all jobs will have their downsides to them.

Ours in veterinary medicine usually involves teeth and poop.

No matter how you look at it, the job is kind of gross sometimes and you’re on your feet A LOT.

You can’t call yourself a Vet Tech 

While not having debt or years spent in school can be a PRO, on the flip side, it’s also a CON if you’re wanting to hold the title of a Veterinary Technician.

Miss out on some of the cool tasks 

Many assistants are taught how to do minor blood draws but are not allowed to place IV catheters or perform other duties that the Technician does.

All the restraining 

Holding dogs and cats that are upset or painful is sometimes dangerous and you are liable to get hurt.

Injuries are not uncommon in veterinary medicine.

A lot of poop, pee and anal glands 

This is a shared CON for the entire veterinary field.

Receptionists, Techs, Assistants and Doctors will have their fair share of soiled scrubs at the end of a long work day.

Veterinary Assistants: An Important Helping Hand In VetMed

It is not unusual for Veterinary Technicians to be inundated with tasks and responsibilities.

Veterinary Assistants free up some time for the Tech, helping the Vet and other staff to complete treatments and restrain for procedures.

The role of Veterinary Assistant is valuable and highly needed, being that important helping hand that the Technician and Doctor rely on for support. 

Photo by Tima.