Do You Really Need An RVT?

July/August 2004 California Veterinarian

By Cheryl Buch, RVT

According to California licensing statistics, there are two veterinarians for every registered veterinary technician. If you are looking for an RVT to fill a vacancy in your clinic, you have a difficult task before you. You might ask yourself first if you really need an RVT. How do you plan to utilize your new employee? Will you allow him to:

  • induce intravenous and inhalation anesthesia
  • perform dental extractions
  • suture existing skin incisions
  • apply casts and splints
  • perform treatments off-site

If your answer is no to all of the above questions, you do not need an RVT. Many qualified assistants will be able to fulfill your staffing needs. If you were to fill this position with an RVT, you would probably have a very unhappy employee who would leave in a few months if not sooner. If you answered yes to any one of the five tasks listed above, then yes, you need an RVT.

How can you go about locating potential employment candidates? Check with the nearest technician school in your area. Schools cannot provide mailing lists of their graduates, but most schools make employment opportunities available to graduates and current students. Some practitioners have begun to purchase mailing lists of RVTs in a specific area from the Veterinary Medical Board. Job announcements promoting the advantage of working in their clinic are then mailed directly to the RVT’s mailing address. Although few in number, existing veterinary technician associations send newsletters to their constituents, and many will post job notices for free; others may charge a small fee.

What does it take to attract an RVT if you decide you need one? RVTs want to know that they will be able to utilize the skills required of their license (the tasks listed above). They want to know that their training and license is respected. Most RVTs understand that there is a learning curve associated with each new clinic, but this should be relatively brief with an RVT; they should not have to begin at entry-level wages. RVTs want to know that they will have the support staff they need to help them perform at their highest capacity (e.g., an assistant to restrain while they place a catheter, induce anesthesia, intubate, etc.).

Does your veterinary clinic provide such benefits as medical insurance to your full-time employees? Technicians do not make enough money to be able to purchase insurance on their own, and a medical plan with reasonable rates for your employees can be very attractive. Will you provide some support for them to be able to get CE? Does full-time mean 40 hours a week or is it only 32? Many technicians have budgeted their finances based on earnings from a 40-hour per week paycheck and can’t afford to consider anything less. Does your practice have reasonably current equipment and technologies? Technicians don’t expect to have the latest equipment with all the bells and whistles, but a wide array of equipment/responsibilities can make their work more interesting and more challenging.

Do you encourage your staff to grow, to try new things? Are you willing to allow them to introduce new ideas and projects (within reason) such as offering puppy classes? Are you willing to give up some of your responsibilities so that the RVT can better serve you and your patients?

Do you value your employees? Many practitioners truly value their employees but never show it. Saying, “Thank you” or “You did a good job today” at the end of a workday goes a long way toward establishing loyalty to you as an employer.

More and more, it is becoming a technician’s market. As demand grows, technicians can be more selective about their work environment. More practitioners find themselves “selling” their practices to potential employees to attract the best RVTs. If you are lucky enough to have RVTs in your practice, take good care of them; replacing them may not be as easy as you think.

© 2019 California Veterinary Medical Association

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