A Day in the Life of a Veterinary Assistant
A veterinary assistant is an important animal care professional working alongside veterinarians and veterinary technicians. Vet assistants provide support services and assistance to vets and techs so that they can provide better care for animals. They help keep veterinary offices running smoothly, work with pet owners, and calm and soothe cats, dogs and other animals.
If you’re considering getting into a career with animals by becoming a veterinary assistant, you will be joining an industry with incredible growth. Job stability is high, but more importantly, in this career you will play a meaningful and important role in the lives of animals and their owners who love them. But, this is not a job for everyone, even for some people who adore animals. Find out more about what a typical day is like for a vet assistant in order to decide if this is a good career move for you.
Administrative Duties in Veterinary Assisting
As a vet assistant in a veterinary practice, your first tasks of the day are likely to be administrative. You will probably sit down at the front desk and check messages on the phone, return calls and send appointment reminders to pet owners. Throughout the day you will return to the desk often to greet people and their pets, answer the phone, and update and file records.
Veterinary Assistants Work with People
One important thing to understand about what vet assistants do day-to-day on the job is that they don’t just work with animals; they also work with people. The real clients of a veterinary office are the pet owners. Assistants have the important job of interfacing between the veterinarian and the pet owners. In many ways, they are the face of the office, so having good people skills is crucial.
As a veterinary assistant you will greet people as they come in, let them know when the veterinarian or vet tech is ready, and help people make appointments. Vet assistants also play an important role in communication. They often have to explain medications, procedures and examinations to the pet owners, helping to explain what the veterinarian wants them to know.
Vet Assistants Work Hands-on with Animals
Of course, veterinary assistants will also spend a lot of time throughout the day working directly with animals. You may have to clean cages for animals that are recuperating or being boarded, feed those animals and take them out for exercise and breaks. You may be present in examinations or procedures, to help restrain an animal or to hand the veterinarian tools and instruments.
The important hands-on work that vet assistants do is to provide direct care for animals. During a typical work day, you may be expected to calm a nervous dog, soothe a cat that is about to get an injection, or just spend time with animals, making sure they are as comfortable as possible and that their basic needs are being met.
A Typical Day for a Vet Assistant
A typical day in the life of this animal professional includes all of the above responsibilities and duties. As a veterinary assistant, you can expect to be jumping back and forth between all of these roles. You may start at the reception desk and then be called back to help hold a dog for his vaccination shots. After office duties, you may need to clean cages or walk dogs. And, throughout the day you will be expected to talk with and help pet owners. In other words, there is no typical day, and every day is a different mix of all of these things.
How to Become a Veterinary Assistant
If the duties and responsibilities of a vet assistant seem fun, rewarding, challenging and meaningful, this just might be your future career. A veterinary assistant does not need to be licensed, and there are no specific education requirements. However, employers hiring these professionals may have their own requirements, including the completion of a veterinary assisting program. There are many schools that offer these courses, and they are typically diploma or certificate programs that take less than a year to finish.
Some employers may also want to see that the veterinary assistants they hire are certified. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America offers an Approved Veterinary Assistant certification. To earn it, you must complete a veterinary assisting program and pass an exam. Some veterinarians won’t have any of these requirements and will train new assistants on the job, so if you’re willing to get right to work and learn as you, go this may be an option, too.
A career in veterinary assisting is hands-on, involves both people and animals, and is very physical. If you love animals, this could be a great career move for you. It’s also a good stepping stone and a job that can give you valuable experience as you decide to pursue a more advanced career working with animals.