Episode 140 | Do Vet Techs Really Make Things Easier?

Do you want to experience job satisfaction, wellbeing and a sustainable work load?

No matter what role you hold in Vet Med, it’s very difficult for you to create that type of experience all on your own.

Veterinary Medicine has changed drastically over the last 50 years.

Our knowledge base has expanded.

The types of services we can provide has grown.

The expectations from clients have elevated.

The demand for veterinary care has increased significantly.

And, here’s the rub…

The old way of doing things just isn’t sustainable.

Working harder, faster and longer isn’t the answer.

The team approach is the only way we will ever experience balance, wellbeing and a sustainable work load.

This requires us to utilize and leverage our veterinary support staff.

There is great opportunity in empowering and delegating to our credentialed veterinary professionals.

But, most of us don’t do that.


Perfectionism, control, fear… they all play into why we keep hanging on to old ways of approaching our veterinary careers.

The cost:  burnout, low job satisfaction, stress, anxiety, exhaustion, low quality of life

(the list could go on)

Thank you for being a loyal listener and helping us to reach this most recent goal.

If our podcast has made a difference in your life, I hope you’ll share it with a friend.



Website: https://joyfuldvm.com



Music Credit: Music by Lesfm from Pixabay


Thank you so much for listening! If this episode supported you in any way, the best way you can pay forward is by taking a screenshot of this episode and sharing it on social media or with your team, and tag me!


This transcript is auto-generated and may contain typos. 

Hi there. I'm Dr. Cari Wise veterinarian, certified life coach and certified quantum human design specialist. If you are a veterinary professional looking to uplevel your life and your career or maybe looking to go in an entirely new direction, then what I talk about here on the joyful D V M podcast is absolutely for you. Let's get started. Hello my friends.

I wanted to spend a little bit of time here during Vet Tech week talking about my thoughts on utilizing veterinary technicians and our opportunities to do a better job at that. I've been thinking about this quite a bit over the last few weeks after having many conversations with the veterinary assistants that I work with. And it was quite eye-opening for me to learn that what many of them,

I think maybe all of them had experienced at some point in the not so distant past was an experience where they were interviewing for a job and the practice owner said to them that they preferred to hire non-credentialed veterinary staff, so non-credentialed vet techs and and non-certified assistants that they preferred to hire non-credentialed support staff. And that really blew my mind. And as I dug into this a little bit further and we talked about it,

what they're, what they shared with me is that they had experienced, and many of them had experienced a more than one veterinary facility, a conversation with an owner who did not want to hire credentialed staff because of the, what was the word most of amused, the, the, the ego of the staff. So that when they worked with credentialed staff,

they felt like they were know-it-alls. They felt like they were challenging to the, the doctors. And I'm not, I'm not trying to like carve an opinion on one side or the other of that. I think we all have experiences with people who are credentialed and otherwise and, and doctors as well where we run into those kinds of personalities. But my reason for bringing this up and the reason that it has really stuck with me over the last few weeks is because as we look at our profession and we look at the opportunities for us to create wellbeing,

to create balance, to create a sustainable career field, the team approach is absolutely the only way that we are ever going to be able to create that. And it starts with really elevating and utilizing our credentialed staff. As the veterinary profession continues to grow, as the desire for veterinary services continues to expand, as we continue to face shortages in staffing, we have to look at what is underneath all of that and what can we do as a profession to change that experience for ourselves.

Because let's face it, many of us have realized in our careers that it's just not sustainable. And if we take a look at the turnover for veterinary technicians for how long they stay in their career field, the statistics are devastating. Many veterinary tech technicians, credentialed veterinary technicians are only staying in the career field now for about five years. And that is down from a dismal seven or eight years,

which is where they were about 10 years ago. So think about that. If our credentialed staff are only staying in the profession for five years and yet we actually do need them, then what can we do better? Now, this is not meant to be a shame session, so I wanna be very clear on that. I'm not here to, to judge us and to shame us,

but I'm here to point out some blind spots and to identify where we have so much opportunity to utilize our veterinary technicians in a way that actually improves the entire function of any kind of organization in veterinary medicine. And there are a few different points that we have to keep in mind. So first and foremost, we wanna just consider that when we're talking about credentialed veterinary staff,

these people have gone to school to earn a degree and then to get a license. And whether they went to a two year school or a four year school, an online school or an non ground school, it actually doesn't even matter because at the end of the day, they are being, we're talking about students and adults who have gone through programs that were accredited by the A V M A C V T E A and they are then authorized to take the v,

t and E and to become credentialed. So by whatever path they got there, if they have that credential behind their name, just know that they went to an A V M A accredited school and they had to pass the VT and E, which is their national board exam. That means something that took a lot of work, that took a lot of investment.

And so then the next thing we have to look at is are we compensating them in a way that has actually allows them to live their lives? And for years, done a terrible job at this in veterinary medicine. When we take a look at what we have paid our staff, we have not paid them wages that would allow them to actually be able to support themselves.

So we have to get better in this area. We have to be able to pay our veterinary, our credentialed veterinary staff in a way that they actually can earn a living and support themselves or else we're going to just continue to see them leaving the career field for other jobs that actually are more sustainable. Now to that point, I know that many of us would say,

would argue that it's just too expensive that we can't afford to pay them that. And I wanna argue that point a little bit because I don't think it's that we can't afford to pay them. I think it's that we have failed to leverage them in a way that allows us to generate the revenue that is then makes it available for us to pay them a higher wage.

That's not their fault, that's not their fault, that's our fault. Quite honestly, that is a veterinary fault. And this comes back to the very beginning of veterinary medicine. Before the credentialed veterinary technicians even existed as a thing, right? There were the one man show basically one doctor, you know, a handful of on-the-job trained people and they, that was an animal hospital.

That's how it worked for years and years and years. But the knowledge in veterinary medicine has continued to expand. What we can do for animals has continued to expand what clients expect of us as far as their healthcare has continued to expand. But we have been very slow to actually expand the way that we deliver those services. And instead, while we have done veterinarians,

we have continued to hang on to the, I'm the only one who can do it because I can do it best, I can do it faster, I can do it better. And if we look at that as a reason behind why we refuse to give up control of any of it, why we are resistant to delegating, we wanna understand that what's underneath that is actually that,

that hold of perfectionism on all of us. So we are still trying to practice the perfection of veterinary medicine instead of the practice of veterinary medicine. When we are, we refuse to give up control when we refuse to delegate. And we get caught up in this, this trap, this cycle of doing that to where we believe we don't even have enough time to train people to do things the way that we want them done.

We don't have time to evaluate whether or not they know what they say they know. And if you've ever tried to uplevel any kind of system, you know that you have to slow down before you can speed up. And so what that means is you have to take the time to train the people around you to do the things for you that they actually legally can do in order for you to feel comfortable.

Then relinquishing the control of that. So you do have to slow down a little bit, but the time that you gain on the other side and the way that that expands, what you can do within your practices, the number of clients that you can serve, the revenue that you can generate, that actually has an an exponential result. So it's not gonna be a straight upward path as you go through this process.

It's gonna be a little bit up and then plateau and up and plateau and you might even see up plateau and then kind of go down as you're slowing down a little bit to get everybody trained up. And then it goes up at a much higher pace. But instead, what many of us have done in our veterinary practices is we have been trying to grow our revenues by working harder,

working longer, but we are refusing to delegate any of the responsibilities to anyone else. This shows up not only with our credentialed veterinary staff, but also with hiring on associate veterinarians. For some of us, we're even afraid to do that. And so that perfectionism, believing that we have to do it perfectly, it has to be done a certain way,

is a false belief that we are controlling outcomes. This is so important for us to see because it's just another offset of this thing that I've talked about time and time again, which is we try to find our peace in veterinary medicine by controlling outcomes, patients that get better and clients who are happy. If we can make sure that patients get better and if we make sure that clients are happy,

then somehow we have equated that that ignored. We have decided that that means that we are successful. And so on the other side of that, if we have a patient that doesn't turn out the the way that we want it to, we have a client that is unhappy, we believe we have failed in some way, and we fail, what we actually fail to even see is that those things are things we will never control.

You can't do it right enough to guarantee that clients are happy and patients get better. You are not that powerful. You do not fix animals, you do not heal animals. That is not what you do. You educate, you provide options to owners, owners to decide what they wanna do. You fulfill those, those wishes of the owner and then it's up to the animal whether or not it's going to respond to the treatment that we've provided.

So we influence the healthcare of the animals, we do influence it, but we don't control it. We will never control it. And when we continue to believe that we control more than we do, then when much more less willing to release the reigns in other areas. So why is this so important? In a world where we talk about work-life balance and we talk about the importance of wellbeing and we talk about the importance of sustainable careers,

none of those things are possible as long as we continue to be a one-man show. And you can be a one-man show, even within a hospital with multiple doctors and multiple veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants. You can still be operating as a one man show if you refuse to leverage the staff around you. We have to remember that everybody who works in that environment has chosen to work there.

They want to work there and for them to have job satisfaction, we need to be able to let them do the jobs that they actually went to school to do. Now, that doesn't mean that you blindly trust that everybody can do exactly what they tell you that they can do. No, we are all going to do our due diligence just like we do in every other aspect of our lives.

Which means if somebody says, Hey, I know how to do a near cytology, we say, great, do the next one. Lemme check it afterwards. And as you get comfortable with what they do know, or you identify opportunities for them to improve the way that they read in neuro cytology using my example, then you train them, you show them,

you teach them, you mentor them just like we wanna be mentored as doctors. And as you do that, then they become an extension of you. They free up that time. And then you don't have to be the one that spends the time, even if it's just two or three minutes looking at cytology, that's two or three minutes that you get back maybe to put in a medical record or do to see another patient.

The way that we create a sustainable career field for them and for us, one that has us actually enjoying our jobs, having jobs at faction and enhancing our wellbeing, is by using that team approach. It is the only way that veterinary medicine is going to become a sustainable career field. We have to leverage the veterinary healthcare team. Many of us are behind the eight ball on this one.

We have resisted for a long time bringing in credentialed staff. We have stuck with the I have to do it all myself or else, you know, how do I know that it's done right? It's gonna be faster if I just do it. And that is the biggest lie because it is not, it might be faster in this one moment for you to do it,

but when you look at what that compromises for you as far as your availability for your time and your wellbeing in the long run, you're not saving yourself from anything. You're setting up a system that is a hundred percent dependent on you. And if you're gone, then what another doctor can't step in and do what you do if you're doing all the things that a doctor does and all the things that your credentialed staff can do for you,

it's not that easy. It's hard to hire associates into those kinds of environments. And my friends, people who've been out as long as I have, you know, we're going on 25 years here, like my generation and older we're a lot of the problem. Now, we're also, you know, a lot better off than the generations before us, I think as far as our openness to getting help.

But many of us have still adopted the same kind of mentality. And this is exactly what I'm finding as I talk to veterinary technicians and non-credentialed staff and I'm, I'm just floored by how many people who graduated, you know, in the nineties, in the eighties from veterinary school who are saying that they don't wanna hire credentialed staff. Now, some of you say maybe thinking,

well, it doesn't matter because in my state they're not recognized. And so why does it matter if I hire credentialed staff or not? And I wanna ask you like, let's look at this another way. Why aren't they, they recognized, what do we need to do to get them more clearly defined within our practice acts? We have to just recently,

there was a whole conversation out there about this idea of the veterinary practitioner, right? The veterinary technician practitioner, not technician, veterinary nurse practitioner or something along those lines. Basically somebody who could step in and be like the, the level underneath the veterinarian to do some of the things for patients and exams and those kinds of things to take some of the pressure off of the number of veterinarians that we have,

right? To try to offset that shortage that we have. And it was quite comical to read about and to look at from my perspective and from the perspective of many of you as well, because we don't need another title. We need to leverage the titles that we have. We don't need a veterinary nurse practitioner. We need to actually empower our credentialed veterinary staff to do those kinds of jobs.

They already have the training, my friends, they already have the training. If you don't think that they or have been trained, well go to the A V M A C V T E A website and look at their essential skills and knowledge. The list is exhaustive. You'll be stunned at what they have actually been trained to do, what they have to know to pass their V T N E.

You have no idea unless you've looked at it. I didn't know until I ran those programs for six years. I ran 13 of those programs across the country. I had no idea the level of education that they have. And when you look at that, when you understand actually where they come from from an educational background, then maybe that will give you a little bit more comfort in starting to delegate to them and starting to invest some of your time to help them hone their skills in the areas that are gonna help you the most in your practices.

This is the way that we create balance. This is the way that we create wellbeing. This is the way that we create a sustainable career field. Just doing more and doing it faster is not going to ever be the answer. And that just 'cause going to continue to lead to burnout and to compromise to states of wellbeing no matter how we look at it.

Now, other things I want us to consider here, I, I made a few notes here and other things that I want us to consider in this conversation that way I think we have to consider, if we don't talk about this, then I would be remiss in leaving this out. We talked about the practice acts, right? Like, we need to get involved if our,

if our states don't recognize them at all, we need to do something about that. So even if it's little, you know, many of we're busy, we don't have enough time. Even if there's something little you can do, by all means take a look at that, see what you can find out, who like your delegates are for your state.

Those kinds of things. See what you can do to help modify that. We have to move this forward, even if it's one tiny little step at a time, we will still make progress moving forward. And we have made progress. So don't let it fool you just because we still have a lot of states that don't recognize 'em at all. That doesn't mean that we haven't made progress.

So we wanna keep working toward that. In addition to that, a few other points I wanna make when it comes to the egos, we all need to leave those aside. So this whole ego thing, this whole, you know, believing, you don't wanna hire credentialed staff because they just come in overconfident and they wanna challenge the doctors and all that.

But just notice that that goes both ways and that we don't need to be in a war on who knows more. That's not the point of this. We both need to respect the knowledge that we have. And then we have to also recognize that ultimately when it comes to our credentialed staff at this point in time, that whatever the veterinary technicians do, it tends to be under a veterinarian's license.

So I think both sides of the table need to understand that and realize that when a veterinarian for you technicians out there, when a veterinarian is asking you to show them what you know, or they're, they're mentoring you, they're guiding you, they're helping you to hone your skills. It's not because they're being overly critical. It's because you are now a veterinary professional yourself.

But your, your performance reflects back on their license. You screw something up, it's gonna be on the vet. Now, I'm not saying we should look at everything through the lens of negativity, because that's what most of us do. And when we start to look at everything through the lens of negativity and we start to believe that we're gonna have screw ups and it's not gonna go well,

then that's exactly the experience that we are going to have. So we have to, as veterinarians, we have to stop expecting the worst out of our support staff. And as our support staff, we have to start recognizing that this way of being, this learning to work together for your, for the older veterinarians. I hate to stick myself in that category,

but I think I'm there when my staff tells me that. But that this way of working isn't how it started for us. And so giving each other some grace to figure out how to utilize this new relationship in a way that actually benefits everybody, and most importantly benefits the client and patient. I think that that has to be front and center. We have to expect the best and recognize it's gonna be a little bumpy as we figure out how to work together.

But here's what I know for sure and for certain that once you figure out how to work with your veterinary credentialed veterinary staff and for you credentialed vet techs for when you figure out how to work with your doctor, there isn't anything that's more fun because you guys are an extension of each other. You finish each other's sentences, you know exactly how to communicate with clients.

You, you vets, you know what your staff is saying to the clients because you've taught them and they've learned from you staff. You know what your doctor's gonna recommend because you've been with them for so long. And that synergistic relationship starts to make the actual job of veterinary medicine so much more satisfying and so much more fun because you're all on the same team.

And so the team isn't fighting against each other, it's working with each other to then help more patients and or help more clients and, and treat more patients. And that's the whole reason that we're here, right? So we have to be careful of the egos as we go through this and just recognize everybody's here for the right reasons. We're here because we do want to help animals.

We, we want to serve people. That's why we're here. That's why we got into this job. And it's only when the ego gets in the way and we start focusing on the negative, the commiserate, the complaint and blame. When we do that, it takes us out of our roles. It completely shadows why we are here in the first place and absolutely makes us ineffective.

So we want to make sure that we are remembering that we're all on the same side so we can move forward together. So doctors, be open-minded. Listen to what your technicians have to say, especially if they are newer technicians and they've learned things in a slightly different way than you have. There's no reason to get offended. Let's just listen. You still get to decide.

And technicians, you also be open-minded. A doctor who has, you know, a decade or more of experience just may have some other tips and tricks up their sleeve that are completely different than what you learned. But that's okay. This is the practice of veterinary medicine. We all get to figure out how we wanna do it. Learn from each other and you will go so much further.

Finally, I think what we need to remember is that when it comes to job satisfaction, when it comes to wellbeing, when it comes to balance, my friends, it's an inside job. And what I mean by that is that it takes each and every one of us to own our own personal wellbeing, our own level of job satisfaction, our own level of balance.

It takes every one of us owning those things for ourselves in order for us to create them for ourselves. As long as we continue to believe that somebody or something else outside of us is the reason why we don't have balance, we don't have wellbeing, we don't have satisfaction, then we are continuing to give our power away to things that we will never control.

And the truth is that when we take this responsibility for ourselves, when we allow these things to be an inside job and to really know that we are the one who gets to create those things for individually, for ourselves, no matter what happens at life or in work and in the world, then we actually can experience job satisfaction and wellbeing and balance no matter what is happening during the day.

As we begin to experience that, we become an example of what is possible. As we become an example of what is possible, more people start to own that responsibility for themselves and then they create that for themselves. And it starts to balloon the ripple effect is massive. Individually, as we're doing this, do not underestimate the power that we're having on the entire profession as a collective.

It is starting to shift. I promise you it's starting to shift. It may not be happening as fast as you want it to happen, but it is happening. The conversations that we have around wellbeing and balance today, the volume of those conversations, the number of those conversations that are happening today is vastly greater than what we were talking about 10 or 15 years ago.

That is evidence that we are moving in the right direction. So do not give into any of the chatter that says that you are unable to have any kind of balance or job satisfaction or wellbeing as long as you stay in vet medicine. Do not give into the idea that it is clients and patients and student loans and hours and pay that are ruining your life because that is never true.

You always have the power of individual choice. And when we own our individual choice, we will make choices for ourselves that create the lives that we want. And that may mean for some of us that we leave jobs that don't pay enough, that we leave jobs, that don't have the hours that work with the the kind of schedule that we want for ourselves.

And that's okay because as we move away from things that are not aligned for us, two things happen. Number one, you find what is aligned for you and you begin to thrive in that new environment. And number two, those environments that consistently are not supportive of the veterinary professional long-term that have the revolving door, that have just been filling the gaps of their foundation with hiring new staff,

those, those organizations are not gonna be able to thrive. They're gonna be forced to change to keep up, or they're gonna be forced to go away. They're going to self-select if they are not willing to, to help support the veterinary professional, whether it be veterinary and veterinary technician, veterinary assistant, any member of the veterinary healthcare team, they are going to be kind of self-selected out if they are not willing to make the adjustments necessary within their organizations to create a sustainable career field for all of us.

But it takes every single one of us first owning our own experience and operating living from that place in order for any of these things to change. So my friends, as we go through veterinary tech week, technician week, let's celebrate all of our staff. Let's celebrate our credential veterinary technicians. Let's encourage those who don't have their credentials to get their credentials.

It's easier than ever. You can even use online programs. It's more affordable than it's ever been. There are ways for you to train them in a way that you can utilize them as an extension of yourself so that we can help more people, we can help more patients, we can make more money, we can create more balance, and most importantly,

we can create that wellbeing in the life that we want for ourselves. All right, my friends, that's gonna wrap it up. I'll see you soon. Bye For now.