Veterinary technicians are, without a doubt, the heart of any veterinary practice. They keep the veterinarians on schedule, provide mentorship and leadership to assistants and kennel staff, cater to pet health needs, and hold client hands through good and bad news. They come in early, stay late, and work through breaks. Vet techs deserve every possible recognition you can give them during National Veterinary Technician Week, October 15 to 21, but many practices struggle to come up with unique and meaningful ways to honor these prized team members. 

The truth is, while technicians always appreciate a good, hearty free meal, what they actually want goes much deeper than a pizza party. What they want is not only recognition for the hard work they put in daily, but also respect for the work they do, the education they went out of their way to obtain, and the skills they’ve acquired and perfected over the years. Here are a few ideas to truly elevate and celebrate your technicians and help them feel appreciated during vet tech week this year.

#1: Let credentialed technicians do what they do best

If your practice does not differentiate credentialed technicians from non-credentialed assistants, now is the time to start. When you do not acknowledge the differences in education and skill level and the different—but equally important—roles each team member plays in your practice, you are passively telling your technicians they aren’t valued, and their education doesn’t matter. These technicians will never feel truly appreciated, no matter what you do during vet tech week.

The average practice uses only 30% of a veterinary technician’s skill set. Can you imagine telling your veterinarians they aren’t qualified to perform 70% of their job? You’d have a hard time keeping them around, and the same holds true for technicians. Take these steps, and then start using your techs appropriately:

  • Look into your state’s practice act and learn what technicians legally can and cannot do.
  • Research the skills technicians must complete to graduate from their school programs—they are far more extensive than you think.
  • Empower veterinarians to mentor technicians and develop the skills they learned, but haven’t been allowed to use.

#2: Get your clients involved

In a healthy practice culture, technicians acknowledge each others’ strengths and daily wins. They’re in the trenches together and appreciate each other. However, many technicians feel that clients underappreciate them. They want this group’s respect, which you can help foster by letting clients see what technicians actually do. Try the following:

  • Showcase technicians on your practice blog or email newsletter, including their education and how they contribute to patient care behind the scenes.
  • Offer new or existing clients hospital tours in the “back,” so they can see nursing care, anesthesia, and diagnostics in action.
  • Create a “Thank-a-technician” station at the front desk where clients can leave heartfelt notes for their technician’s hard work, and then share these during tech week or staff meetings.

#3: Boost public awareness and perceptions of what vet techs do

Go beyond client awareness of your technicians’ greatness and push harder for public recognition of the veterinary technician profession. Most people don’t realize that veterinary technicians and human nurses have similar jobs—techs do so much more than simply hold animals in exam rooms.

During the month of October, use your social media channels to educate the local community about all that your technicians do, and how hard they’ve worked to get where they are. More than anything, techs want people to stop asking why they became techs and not veterinarians—help the public to understand that veterinary technology is a career, not a consolation prize.

The veterinary profession has reached a crisis point, and celebrating technicians is more important than ever. Go ahead and have that pizza party, provide goodie bags, give them an extra vacation day, or send them for a massage, but don’t forget to treat them as the skilled professionals they are during vet tech week and beyond. 

For help crafting blog or social media posts honoring your technicians this year, contact our Rumpus Writing and Editing team.