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Veterinary Forum October 2008 (Vol 25, No 10)

Editor's Note — Inspire professionalism

by Marie Rosenthal

    Harold Davis Jr., RVT, VTS (Anesthesia, ECC), should be an inspiration to all of us. Davis, who was just elected president of the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society (VECCS), has spent most of his 30-year career perfecting his skills and promoting the professional advancement of technicians.

    In selecting a technician to lead it, VECCS is promoting the role of veterinary technicians and the importance of teamwork, Dr. Gary Stamp, executive director of VECCS, told me. Technicians are as important to the survival and recovery of an animal as the veterinarian is if there is an emergency or the animal needs critical care. VECCS has always recognized that relationship, he added.

    "There was recognition from early on — it was a team approach, and obviously the team consisted of veterinarians and veterinary technicians or critical care nurses working together," he said.

    Is emergency and critical care that different from other veterinary medicine? Don't we need skilled workers in every practice caring for animals? Aren't technicians an important part of every veterinary team? If they aren't, shouldn't they be?

    We did a salary and skills survey of veterinary technicians who read Veterinary Technician, our sister publication, and found that 61% of technicians who took the survey graduated from an AVMA-accredited technician program; 71% are licensed; 49% hold an associate's degree and an additional 27% have a bachelor's degree. This is not an unskilled workforce!

    However, to hire a technician at Harold Davis's level, practice owners have to support that person. They have to pay people their value. If you want unskilled workers, you pay unskilled wages. If you want a professional nursing staff, you pay nurses' wages. Technicians should be encouraged to seek licensing and specialization. Education, education, education should be your mantra. Pay for them to attend CE courses, encourage them to read technician journals, such as Veterinary Technician, and reward their efforts with pay and benefits. This is an investment in the future growth of your practice.

    But most important, you have to treat them as professionals. Davis became president of IVECCS because he is treated as a veterinary specialist and colleague, which he is.

    Good luck, Mr. Davis.

    NEXT: Eklin acquires Merlin from Banfield
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