Is "Technician Assistant" Position Worth it for Experience?

Dec 4, 2019
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I've been applying for a lot of jobs to get animal or veterinary experience this summer and not having much luck because of COVID-19. I am a rising sophomore in college who has mostly volunteer experience related to animals and was hoping to get an actual job. I applied to one animal hospital with a position called Veterinary Technician Assistant and they called me this morning about it, which I'm assuming is a good sign. I'm just wondering how valuable this would be since I've never heard of technicians having assistants. Also, would this count as veterinary experience or animal experience on VMCAS? Any advice would be appreciated on whether I should take this job.
 
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genny

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Veterinary experience. I’m guessing you would be doing restraint, cleaning kennels, etc. It’s worthwhile to get your foot in the door somewhere.
 
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SkiOtter

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I’ve heard of “veterinary technician assistants” essentially being a different term for “veterinary assistant.” As a VA you’re basically assisting the techs anyway. I definitely agree with genny that it’s worth getting your foot in the door.
 
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I've been applying for a lot of jobs to get animal or veterinary experience this summer and not having much luck because of COVID-19. I am a rising sophomore in college who has mostly volunteer experience related to animals and was hoping to get an actual job. I applied to one animal hospital with a position called Veterinary Technician Assistant and they called me this morning about it, which I'm assuming is a good sign. I'm just wondering how valuable this would be since I've never heard of technicians having assistants. Also, would this count as veterinary experience or animal experience on VMCAS? Any advice would be appreciated on whether I should take this job.
If you haven’t actually had any hands-on veterinary experience, this sounds like an excellent way to get started. I would think it’s veterinary experience (since technicians work under the supervision of a veterinarian, too), but someone else may be able to chime in if I’m incorrect. I say take it!
 
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battie

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Right now having opportunities to 1) get a paying job and 2) veterinary experience is worth it's weight in plutonium. Absolutely take it. A technician assistant is the same as a vet assistant. The vast majority of my hours fall into this category.

The only reason I would say not to take it would be if it seems real sketchy at the outset, or if it quickly becomes apparent that the environment is a toxic work place.
 
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DVM2024

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I’d say go for it. My first job in vet med was as a vet tech assistant, and it gave me hundreds of hours of vet experience and allowed me to move up in the ranks.
 
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I've been applying for a lot of jobs to get animal or veterinary experience this summer and not having much luck because of COVID-19. I am a rising sophomore in college who has mostly volunteer experience related to animals and was hoping to get an actual job. I applied to one animal hospital with a position called Veterinary Technician Assistant and they called me this morning about it, which I'm assuming is a good sign. I'm just wondering how valuable this would be since I've never heard of technicians having assistants. Also, would this count as veterinary experience or animal experience on VMCAS? Any advice would be appreciated on whether I should take this job.

I'm a technician assistant myself, having exactly same tasks as technicians but called tech assistant because I'm not certified and cannot legally be called a technician (and less payment apparently). I'd ask your hospital manager what exactly your job entails, as well as any room for on the job learning. I was a strict vet assistant for half a year before the current job, only allowed to restrain, absolutely no chance of learning to do any blood draw or diagnostics. On not busy days that means cleaning vents and wiping walls... and I was bored out of my mind.
 
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TheGirlWithTheFernTattoo

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I think "technician assistant" is technically what my job description would be as a rising 3rd year vet student lol.

There's a ton of variation in what your role is and what you will be allowed to do depending on where you are and what experience you have; I would say go for it!
 
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CoffeeQuestionMark

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I would personally recommend taking any job at a vet clinic that is not kennel assistant (which some people may enjoy, I can't personally recommend it)

Additionally, you'll have no idea what the position entails or if you like the environment if you don't go in person, and I would not advise about taking a job or turning it down until you go in.
 
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Minnerbelle

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I think "technician assistant" is technically what my job description would be as a rising 3rd year vet student lol.

There's a ton of variation in what your role is and what you will be allowed to do depending on where you are and what experience you have; I would say go for it!

Yup this. For some clinics there is a rigid breakdown of job descriptions. E.g. tech assistants only clean exam rooms, restock, restrain animals. For other clinics, it’s the official title for anyone who’s not a licensed tech regardless of what their job description is, which may be indistinguishable from a licensed tech. For others it’s fluid. You won’t really know until you start, so unless you don’t like it based on interview, or you have something better to do, go ahead and take the position.

Also, know that becoming a “tech” is not what gets you into vet school. Becoming best friends with the techs and other staff ain’t it either. Even if your job description is boring and essentially a glorified janitor who helps restrain animals, it doesn’t mean that experience isn’t valuable. Use that opportunity to be within the four walls of a vet hospital, ask questions, be engaged, and get to know the veterinarian. Try to do what you need to in order to try and understand what exactly the vet does and what goes on in their minds. That’s really the most important part.

Outside of observing and seeing things from the vet’s perspective, honestly the position in the vet hospital that will teach you most about veterinary practice is actually reception. It’s often harder to find a competent veterinary receptionist than a technician
 
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It’s often harder to find a competent veterinary receptionist than a technician

100% truth. Maximizing efficiency through proper scheduling, triaging over the phone, knowing at least some basic history questions to ask is so important when you’re often the first face a client sees or communicates with.

We just had to let our receptionist go because of deficiencies in these areas, along with the fact that she just did not work like at all, would make excuses to leave in the middle of the day and then not return, etc. but I can’t tell you how many times clients would disrespect her on the phone, but when I picked up and answered as a doctor, they were soooooo polite. I think it’s definitely a position where you could pick up on some of the soft skills.
 
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CoffeeQuestionMark

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100% truth. Maximizing efficiency through proper scheduling, triaging over the phone, knowing at least some basic history questions to ask is so important when you’re often the first face a client sees or communicates with.

We just had to let our receptionist go because of deficiencies in these areas, along with the fact that she just did not work like at all, would make excuses to leave in the middle of the day and then not return, etc. but I can’t tell you how many times clients would disrespect her on the phone, but when I picked up and answered as a doctor, they were soooooo polite. I think it’s definitely a position where you could pick up on some of the soft skills.
And yet so many pre-vets don't seem to think reception actually counts or should count as veterinary experience.
Yup this. For some clinics there is a rigid breakdown of job descriptions. E.g. tech assistants only clean exam rooms, restock, restrain animals. For other clinics, it’s the official title for anyone who’s not a licensed tech regardless of what their job description is, which may be indistinguishable from a licensed tech. For others it’s fluid. You won’t really know until you start, so unless you don’t like it based on interview, or you have something better to do, go ahead and take the position.

Also, know that becoming a “tech” is not what gets you into vet school. Becoming best friends with the techs and other staff ain’t it either. Even if your job description is boring and essentially a glorified janitor who helps restrain animals, it doesn’t mean that experience isn’t valuable. Use that opportunity to be within the four walls of a vet hospital, ask questions, be engaged, and get to know the veterinarian. Try to do what you need to in order to try and understand what exactly the vet does and what goes on in their minds. That’s really the most important part.

Outside of observing and seeing things from the vet’s perspective, honestly the position in the vet hospital that will teach you most about veterinary practice is actually reception. It’s often harder to find a competent veterinary receptionist than a technician
Right, in many ways I think receptionists need more experience and skills than assistants. It's interesting because it seems to me most places have you start in reception or kennel assisting before going into vet assisting. But, like rocky said, if you don't know how to triage or aren't familiar with the other hospitals in the area when needed to refer someone out, that can set the hospital up for bad first impressions. Assistants, on the other hand, should theoretically have supervision at all times, so if they don't know something they can ask.

Some large hospitals in the area are re-branding receptionists as customer service representatives. From what I've heard from people who have worked at these places first hand, they're hiring people with basic non-medical customer service background into these roles. Sure, they might come with good people skills, but that's not enough.
 
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I can't even count the number of times my reception training (did reception for 2.5 years before school) has helped me with my job as an assistant this summer. Any client communication, triaging (I'm at an emerg clinic), etc benefits from it. Plus I think working reception will keep you from being that doctor that all the receptionists hate down the road haha.

I do not enjoy reception, I am not good at it, and I don't ever want to do it again. But it absolutely taught me skills that have helped me as I've gotten further into the profession.
 
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itsrocky

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Definitely takes a special person to man that front desk. A little part of me dies each time I chip in to answer a phone when it’s busy.
 
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Definitely takes a special person to man that front desk. A little part of me dies each time I chip in to answer a phone when it’s busy.

Oooh I love answering phones. It’s a great way to catch things like, “hi I called earlier and someone told me XYZ” and it’s like ... oh.... did they!?

And sometimes it’s a client I mean to call anyway or it’s actually a question I should be dealing with, at which point I’ll reveal my identity, and my clients are like, “oh geez, do you need to hire another receptionist? I didn’t think you would be answering the phone.

And I continue to pretend to be staff when the client is being annoying, and it’s amusing.

But I hear you, the one that I answer to help When it’s super busy up at reception, or the one I accidentally answer as I’m trying to dial out a call is the one I always regret answering with a super needy client that goes on and on and on but won’t let you get a word in.
 
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There are great things about being a receptionist. Even when I hated my job, there were still things I liked. I'm sure there are clinics that pay their reception team well, keep them longer than 6 months, and keep them well staffed. My clinic did not do those things. Eventually, it just felt like we were there for everyone else to **** on. Everyone: clients, technicians, even (especially?) the vets. I learned so much in that job and it was a hugely valuable experience. I would never want to do it again.
 
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What is it with this "rising sophomore" and "rising 3rd year vet student" stuff?

As opposed to "sinking sophomores" and "sinking 3rd year vet students"? :)

We utilize technician assistants to help our techs. They do whatever our techs want them to do. Usually restraint is the 'starting' point, but cleaning, stocking, restraint ... as they learn they move into helping take rads, going over estimates with clients, helping do lab stuff (automated - I don't trust them to do something like a manual cbc), doing hourlies on stable inpatients, etc. It can be helpful.

Honestly, I'd much rather have more techs and fewer assistants, because there is a HUGE difference between have two good techs and one good tech with a good assistant, but ... it's so dang hard to find (certified, licensed, whatever your state calls them) techs nowadays you take what you can get.

We currently have .... hmm ... at least two ICU tech assistants that are current vet students. 3 ER tech assistants that are either vet students or pre-vet students. And I think a couple other scattered in the hospital (reception, for instance) that are pre-vets.

It's useful for them. They get some hours, get exposed to what life is really like in clinical practice, get some customer experience.....
 
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And btw, if the sentiment behind the question (and other pre-vets wondering the same thing) is "should I take a 'lowly' assistant job when what I really want is to be learning cool medical things" ....

.... being a vet is about working hard and being willing to do ALL the tasks. Sure, I get to play with cool equipment like endoscopes and brand-new fancy ultrasounds/CT/MRI and I've got all sorts of cool meds and equipment and procedures.

But you aren't going to learn anything like that before vet school in a context that you really understand anyway, so focus on learning to be a team player, working hard, being willing to do the crap tasks when they need to get done, and what being in a veterinary medical environment is like. Which you can do as a tech, an assistant, a receptionist, or whatever.

You know who mops up the floor a few times on a typical shift at work? Me. Why? Because my techs are cleaning up the patient for me, taking the rads for me, running the blood for me, taking care of my inpatients for me, cleaning and sanitizing my surgery pack for me, talking to the client for me, filling meds for me, going over the discharge for me .............. so the least I can do for them is clean up the poop in the kennel and the blood on the floor (that I put there anyway doing the procedure).
 
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Minnerbelle

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And btw, if the sentiment behind the question (and other pre-vets wondering the same thing) is "should I take a 'lowly' assistant job when what I really want is to be learning cool medical things" ....

.... being a vet is about working hard and being willing to do ALL the tasks. Sure, I get to play with cool equipment like endoscopes and brand-new fancy ultrasounds/CT/MRI and I've got all sorts of cool meds and equipment and procedures.

But you aren't going to learn anything like that before vet school in a context that you really understand anyway, so focus on learning to be a team player, working hard, being willing to do the crap tasks when they need to get done, and what being in a veterinary medical environment is like. Which you can do as a tech, an assistant, a receptionist, or whatever.

You know who mops up the floor a few times on a typical shift at work? Me. Why? Because my techs are cleaning up the patient for me, taking the rads for me, running the blood for me, taking care of my inpatients for me, cleaning and sanitizing my surgery pack for me, talking to the client for me, filling meds for me, going over the discharge for me .............. so the least I can do for them is clean up the poop in the kennel and the blood on the floor (that I put there anyway doing the procedure).

Yup, the ones who start out all snooty and turns their nose up at “lowly” positions and tasks that are beneath them as future doctors... are the ones to who grow up to be inconsiderate doctors that runs around like a hurricane expecting everyone to pick up after them.

Starting out with the attitude of pitching in wherever they can, and having the awareness to do their part in doing whatever they can so that the team can move most efficiently, that stays with you. And as a doctor, that translates to not just being a team player, but also leadership skills with staff that respects you.

Being aware of what all staff members do and knowing how to pitch in goes a long way. Do routine surgery or lac repair? Separating out the tools and gauze you don’t need or use so that there’s minimal instruments for staff to scrub, getting rid of all sharps and dirty disposables, that kind of thing help the techs a lot. When making lab callbacks, just going ahead and scheduling that recheck yourself takes 1-2 minutes, and it’s one less phone call for your staff to take, where they have to start all over from “what is your pet’s name?” Staff absolutely notice the difference between doctors who do and don’t do these things. And it has nothing to do with being popular or making friends or anything like that. It helps everyone be more efficient and boosts morale, and you teach by example.
 
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LyraGardenia

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What is it with this "rising sophomore" and "rising 3rd year vet student" stuff?

As opposed to "sinking sophomores" and "sinking 3rd year vet students"? :)
I think it's just to eliminate confusion when referring to what year you are during the summer. ;) Personally I would just say "I'm going into ______ year," but to each their own.
 
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LetItSnow

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I think it's just to eliminate confusion when referring to what year you are during the summer. ;) Personally I would just say "I'm going into ______ year," but to each their own.

Ahhhhhhh. Makes sense. Sorta. It would still leave me wondering if "rising 3rd year" meant "just finished third year" or "going into third year."

Just a weird phrase.
 
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DVM2024

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I applaud the doctors on here who clean up their own messes!!! I’ve worked under about 12 doctors at this point and only 1 ever helped us clean up.
 
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DVMDream

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And btw, if the sentiment behind the question (and other pre-vets wondering the same thing) is "should I take a 'lowly' assistant job when what I really want is to be learning cool medical things" ....

.... being a vet is about working hard and being willing to do ALL the tasks. Sure, I get to play with cool equipment like endoscopes and brand-new fancy ultrasounds/CT/MRI and I've got all sorts of cool meds and equipment and procedures.

But you aren't going to learn anything like that before vet school in a context that you really understand anyway, so focus on learning to be a team player, working hard, being willing to do the crap tasks when they need to get done, and what being in a veterinary medical environment is like. Which you can do as a tech, an assistant, a receptionist, or whatever.

You know who mops up the floor a few times on a typical shift at work? Me. Why? Because my techs are cleaning up the patient for me, taking the rads for me, running the blood for me, taking care of my inpatients for me, cleaning and sanitizing my surgery pack for me, talking to the client for me, filling meds for me, going over the discharge for me .............. so the least I can do for them is clean up the poop in the kennel and the blood on the floor (that I put there anyway doing the procedure).

I'd rather clean a kennel, pick up ****, or mop than take radiographs or answer the phone any day. So if my cleaning frees up staff to do other things, I'm cleaning.
 
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DVMDream

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I started off as a "kennel assistant" in a veterinary clinic-- it was 90% restocking and cleaning. It was a small clinic though and I was constantly around the medicine, vets, techs, etc so learned quite a bit. They were also willing to train me into a veterinary assistant once I proved I was dedicated, hard working and showed interest. I was first trained into reception followed by into a veterinary assistant position (which vet assistant back then was not any different than vet tech in far as what I tasks I performed). Just being in a clinic environment, you can learn so much, you don't have to be directly involved with the medicine part necessarily.

A clinic can only function with all parts of the team working together, a vet can't do their job if the equipment isn't restocked and if the clinic isn't clean, those positions aren't "less than" they are important and contribute to the overall running and function of a veterinary clinic.
 
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princesspeach2

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I agree with all of the above! When I was pre-vet (still need to update my status on my account), I was interviewed for the position of a kennel assistant at a small hospital (4 exam rooms, 5 doctors with 2-3 doctors working each day, only open Mon-Saturday and no nights), but during the interview they liked me so much that they wanted me to cross train as a receptionist since I had a customer service background. My duties as a kennel assistant consisted of general hospital cleaning, laundry, dishes, restraint, some general stocking, taking dogs out to use the bathroom, wrapping up euthanized animals, and feeding animals. My duties as a receptionist were answering phones and emails, making appointments, filling prescriptions, and checking clients in and out. A few months later, they told me they wanted to train me to be a vet assistant. As a vet assistant, I did restraint, roomed patients, called for records and entered them in, stocked medical supplies, learned how to do anal gland expressions and practice nail trims on sedated animals (we did complimentary nail trim and AGE with any surgery), help set up surgeries, filled out the S and O on the SOAP for records, gave fluids to a cat once (okay, inserted the needle) and assisted the doctors. Had I not moved, I would have moved to being a "tech assistant" which at my clinic, meant learning how to do blood draws, running labs, some vaccines, monitor vitals for surgeries, ear cleaning, and other procedures. I learned a heck of a lot in under a year of working there, and loved how patient, kind, and how we were all a big family (although there was some catiness with the receptionists, the back team was great though).

When I moved, I got hired at a much larger veterinary hospital (24/7, emergency and regular appointments, 12+ doctors, 12+ exam rooms) as a "tech assistant". I got to watch a spay surgery which was really cool. Here, being a "tech assistant" meant rooming patients, filling and making compound prescriptions, doing blood draws, doing some vaccines, anal gland expressions, filling out the complete SOAP, checking out patients, running labs and entering lab work results, calling clients to follow-up, making appointments, monitoring surgery and recovery, cleaning and restocking. It was a great opportunity to learn a lot and work with different specialties and animals, but the hours (being scheduled for 10 hour days, and then expected to stay 1-4 hours late everyday until EVERYTHING was done for all areas, working past midnight and then having to come back before 6am the next day with only working lunches if you did not want to stay an additional hour late) and lack of public transportation to get there made it where I could not and did not want to continue working there.

Different places have different environments. Some are supportive and really nice, others are a bit more chaotic and sort of toxic. You get a feel during the interview for the kind of place it will be.

I highly, highly, highly recommend interviewing and trying to get this position. I volunteered at an animal shelter before and had shadowed a vet, but it is a much different experience working at a clinic and trying to juggle several things at once and having fractious cats bite and scratch you as you try to muzzle them, or a a dog lunge at you unexpectedly when you walk in the room. Or have a client yell at you, or dealing with ummmm... grumpy specialty vets. I still really love veterinary medicine, but not enough to do it as a career. You also get to learn about some of the software clinics use and terminology, which can be a learning process. You learn about so much and get a much better idea of the daily life of a veterinarian. Some would come in early to respond to clients and prescription requests, some did work at home, some came in on their days off to squeeze in a patient who badly needed to be seen or to catch up on paper work.

If they are unsure about you for a vet tech assistant position at the interview, I recommend mentioning you would be happy to start out as kennel. Being a team player and doing any job happily, working hard, and having a positive attitude will get you very far in life. If people like you, they want to help you out and want you to learn more to help more. :)
 
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Forgot I posted this but will update. This job didn't end up working out because they decided they didn't want to take the time to train me to only work for a summer (the lady told me they rarely hire seasonal workers). Also, I definitely didn't see this position as too "lowly"! I genuinely had never heard of the technician assistant position and wanted to know what hours it counted for and just more info. I ended up getting a job at a daycare/boarding facility instead- not an animal hospital unfortunately, but still getting a lot of animal experience hours so that is good.
 
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mmmdreamerz

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Forgot I posted this but will update. This job didn't end up working out because they decided they didn't want to take the time to train me to only work for a summer (the lady told me they rarely hire seasonal workers). Also, I definitely didn't see this position as too "lowly"! I genuinely had never heard of the technician assistant position and wanted to know what hours it counted for and just more info. I ended up getting a job at a daycare/boarding facility instead- not an animal hospital unfortunately, but still getting a lot of animal experience hours so that is good.

take the animal experience you can get from this job and see if you can get your foot in the door shadowing somewhere!
 
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