Veterinary technicians are essential components in the pet healthcare system. Alongside veterinarians, this workforce performs medical tests that help diagnose and treat sick and injured pets and aid in overall hospital efficiency. While trained veterinary technicians are highly sought-after by top veterinary employers, physically and emotionally demanding job responsibilities, coupled with little to no pathways for long-term career progression, propel many to leave the field after five to seven years of practice.
Undoubtedly, change for the veterinary professional and across the industry at large was (and still is) needed.
As veterinary hospitals continue to utilize technicians to perform more advanced companion animal care, and pet ownership grows, the demand for qualified technicians and overall staff will continue to rise. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of veterinary technicians is projected to grow 16 percent from 2019 to 2029, considerably faster than the average for all occupations.
The experienced and qualified technician is an invaluable asset to a hospital, offering increased productivity as well as boosting doctor and client satisfaction. By empowering technicians, both personally and professionally through increased career and education opportunities, doctors are awarded the experienced support they require to perform advanced medicine, and clients are offered additional time with a medical expert, aiding in treatment plan competency and compliance; in turn enabling better outcomes for the pet. To be specific, with advanced training and education, an experienced veterinary technician may be able to recommend treatment options, provide more specialized treatment, consult with pet owners on diagnostic tests and results, administer medications, prepare animals for procedures or surgery, and even assist veterinarians during advanced surgeries.
Recognizing the industry-wide need for more trained and qualified technicians, BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital, a leading veterinary employer with 1,330+ veterinarians, 1,600+ veterinary technicians, and 4,100+ other professionals nationwide, launched CareerTrax and increased its continuing education incentives. CareerTrax is the industry’s largest electronic career pathing platform which supports a first-of-its-kind leveling and compensation structure. This new tiered skill system extends career path options for all Associates, including front desk staff, allowing them to know early on the opportunities available and the skills and knowledge needed to advance.
BluePearl’s CareerTrax tracks Associates’ skill set development for career advancement (leveling up) and gives Associates full transparency into skill and leveling requirements for each role, level, and specialty. Opportunity to level up happens bi-annually, once in the spring and once in the fall. Similar to a residency program, Associates can advance to the next level in CareerTrax while gaining hands-on experience on the practice floor. To advance to the next level in CareerTrax the Associate will need to complete a skills checklist, pass mandatory quizzes and a final leveling up assessment, be current on all mandatory trainings (both required by the State in which they are practicing and BluePearl), and be actively credentialed and in good standing within their State of employment (if applicable).
For those interested in advancing in specialty medicine, BluePearl provides checklists and leveling guides in the areas of cardiology, dentistry, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, ECC, internal medicine, neurology, ophthalmology, oncology, surgery, ER and critical care, avian and exotics, and more. Associates also have access to BluePearl’s electronic learning and training platform, BluePearl University, which provides access to more than 2,000 medical journals, books, and abstracts.
Veterinary technicians must master both soft and hard technical skills. This dynamic skillset can be achieved through a combination of formal education and hands-on experience. Recognizing the unique position BluePearl is in to bring about transformative change on a national level, in 2016, we partnered with Penn Foster, an ACMA-CVTEA accredited school. Through the Penn Foster program, Associates have an affordable pathway to becoming a Credentialed Veterinary Technician. BluePearl also offers up to 90 percent tuition assistance to eligible Associates enrolled in the program. In addition, all graduates of Penn Foster’s Veterinary Technician Degree program are guaranteed an interview at one of BluePearl’s more than 100 emergency and specialty pet hospitals nationwide.
As we shift from conversation to action, it is imperative that we continue to capture the diverse representations of veterinary technician knowledge and experiences as well as their contributions to outcomes across the patient care process. This perpetual, expansive pool of knowledge will bear multiple benefits, including:
The future state of the profession is dependent on the deliberate actions of executive veterinary leaders today – and the steps us at BluePearl have taken are just the beginning. As we lay this foundation for our Associates, the profession, and for all those professionals who will one day enter it, it is important to understand how investments in sustainable careers reverberate to benefit the broader profession today and in the future.