Vet nurses vs vet techs - What’s the difference?
Many vet clinics in Australia are feeling the impact of staff shortages which are putting unnecessary pressure on veterinarians. Could veterinary technicians help alleviate this pressure?
Vet nurse qualification
In Australia, the current Australian national qualification for vet nursing is the Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing, which takes from 18 months to 2 years to complete and is an Australian Qualification Framework Level 4 (AQF 4) qualification
The Diploma in Veterinary Nursing, an AQF 5 qualification is then an additional program available following on from the Cert IV. Four different streams are possible to study and the candidate needs extensive experience and exposure to veterinary practice These streams are general practice; surgical; emergency and critical care, and dental.
Vet tech qualification
Veterinary technology is a three-year bachelors degree, an AQF 7 qualification, that provides a knowledge base and skill set broader and deeper than that of the vocationally trained Cert IV and Diploma veterinary nurse. .
Starting in 2020 at the University of Adelaide’s Roseworthy campus, the Bachelor of Veterinary Technology will include extensive clinical experience in which students will develop high level practical skills and knowledge in caring for animals of a wide range of species.
Through the three years of the program students will develop a comprehensive understanding of animal welfare and health and their management at the level of individual animals and in populations.
In addition to their core knowledge student’s will be offered an elective track to allow them to follow areas of special interest. Tracking options may include areas such as small animal medical and surgical nursing,, equine nursing, farm animal health management and practice management.
On completion of the program graduates will be allied veterinary health care professionals experienced in the latest approaches and technologies used in animal health management.
How could becoming a 'vet tech' help?
Some clinics, emergency and critical care hospitals, and specialist centres in Australia are already using a very effective tiered system of support staff. These include kennel hands and specific customer support staff and receptionists, through to trainee veterinary nurses, veterinary nurses, diploma qualified nurses, degree qualified veterinary technicians and practice managers. This means that veterinary surgeons gain the time to do the work that only they are qualified for.
“Most veterinarians will welcome ‘vet techs’ as well-trained members of the animal health care team who will make the vet's job easier, more efficient and more rewarding,” says veterinary technology program coordinator Brett Smith.
“An additional benefit will be addressing staff shortages in vet practices. Many practices, particularly in rural and regional areas, are having serious difficulty recruiting and retaining veterinarians and knowledgeable skilled staff In some cases, vet techs will help keep these practices viable, profitable and efficient, to the benefit of the vet, the vet tech, the clients, their animals and community as a whole.”
So, rather than employing another vet in a very tight market, could 'vet techs' be a solution for some clinics?
- Employing a veterinary technician could help alleviate the heavy workload on vets, allowing vets to manage their veterinary surgeon duties more effectively.
- It could increase job satisfaction for all veterinary staff, which may lead to better retention of vets in practices and a more productive work place.
- They should also contribute to generation of higher revenue for the practices, which could accommodate staff pay increases and improve staff retention, plus a more profitable business.
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