RVT Month: Celebrating Registered Veterinary Technologists
October is Registered Veterinary Technologists (RVT) Month! This year, nearly 10,000 RVTs across Canada will be recognized. The Registered Veterinary Technologists and Technicians of Canada (RVTTC), along with its seven provincial associations across Canada celebrate RVT Month each October as an opportunity to acknowledge and recognize the indispensable role RVTs play in the field of animal healthcare.
At Boundary Bay Veterinary Specialty Hospital, we are also celebrating our RVTs and the qualities that make them such compassionate animal caretakers. RVTs are passionate, dedicated professionals who possess a unique blend of compassion, expertise, and resilience. They are the unsung heroes of veterinary clinics worldwide and this month is to celebrate and build awareness of their professional training and their vital role on the veterinary team.
Who are Registered Veterinary Technologists?
Registered Veterinary Technologists/Technicians (RVTs) are formally educated and trained professionals working as integral members of the veterinary health care team. RVTs contribute to the essential service of veterinary medicine through their knowledge of animal health, understanding of zoonotic diseases, use of personal protective equipment, disinfection, and disease control. RVTs help ensure the safety of the food chain for Canadians and protect the human-animal bond by keeping animals healthy.
RVTs care and advocate for animals across Canada. RVTs work in veterinary hospitals, livestock health facilities, shelters, research facilities, educational institutions, government, animal health care industry sales and zoo and wildlife care facilities. They all have one thing in common: the care of animals. This is what makes up the heart of an RVT.
What does a Registered Veterinary Technologist do?
Registered Veterinary Technologists work in many different veterinary settings. They perform challenging and important tasks and participate in big-picture patient care alongside Doctors of Veterinary Medicine.
At Boundary Bay Veterinary Specialty Hospital, our RVTs work alongside both our emergency department and ICU teams, as well as with our many different Board-certified veterinary specialists that are part of our hospital.
Many people know what a registered nurse, dental hygienist, and paralegal does in relation to the doctor, dentist, and lawyer respectively, but many people don’t know how the Registered Veterinary Technologist (RVT) relates to and supports the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. It is often our pets that get the most facetime with these amazing caregivers, and they don’t ask many questions!
RVTs have an exceptional breadth and depth of skills, abilities, and responsibilities in their practice.
What RVTs can do and/or specialize in:
- anesthesia and pain control procedures
- sample collection and laboratory procedures
- radiology procedures
- nursing care for hospitalized patients such as comforting a patient after surgery, changing bandages, and providing nutrition through a variety of methods
- dentistry such as dental cleaning, scaling, polishing, radiographs, and pain control
- emergency medicine
- surgical assistance
- surgical equipment sterilization and preparation
- physical rehabilitation
- massage therapy
- client education
- behaviour consultation
- nutritional consultation
- practice management
There are many more! A complete list of all Veterinary Technologist Specialities can be accessed here.
Where RVTs can work:
- veterinary practices (small animal, food animal, equine)
- feedlots/ranches/dairy farm (herd health)
- wildlife parks
- wildlife rehabilitation centres
- animal shelters
- research facilities
- government veterinary laboratories
- veterinary pharmaceutical sales
- pet food sales
What kinds of animals RVTs can work with:
- small animals such as dogs and cats
- large animals such as horses, cattle, and other farm animals
- laboratory animals such as rats, mice, and guinea pigs
- exotic animals such as birds, monkeys, snakes and other reptiles
Lifestyle & wellness
Being an RVT is a passion for many practitioners. This passion can have both a positive and negative impact on a person’s lifestyle — it can be motivating, rewarding and engaging, but can also be all consuming, and emotionally draining for many. RVTs in a veterinary practice have a physically demanding job, from being on their feet most of the day, to long shifts, to lifting animals as heavy as 22 kilograms. When an animal exceeds 22 kilograms, more than one person is required for workplace safety. Being an RVT is an emotionally demanding profession as well: dealing with sick animals; upset and grieving pet owners; being passionate and wanting to have a positive impact on the well-being of an animal.
At BBVSH, we recognize these rewards and challenges, and have hired a full-time social worker to help our staff manage the mental health demands of the work they do.
What is RVT Month all about?
This year’s theme will be “Qualities of an RVT!” The theme was chosen to celebrate the incredible people that become RVTs and the qualities that make them compassionate animal caretakers. RVTs are passionate, dedicated professionals who possess a unique blend of compassion, expertise, and resilience. They are the unsung heroes of veterinary clinics worldwide and this month is to build celebrate and build awareness of their professional training and their vital role on the veterinary team.
RVTs are formally educated in a number of areas within veterinary medicine. From anesthesia to dentistry; lab animal research to industry sales; equine to avian and exotics; nutrition to radiology; large animal to shelter medicine, RVTs bring forward a diverse background to share alongside veterinarians and other team members, providing animals with the highest quality of healthcare. They are licensed professionals who have completed a challenging licensing exam (VTNE) and met the requirements to register as an RVT in their province.
How Do You Become an RVT?
To become a Registered Veterinary Technologist/Technician in Canada, you must have developed a standard of knowledge and skills by graduating from an accredited post-secondary program in Animal Health, Veterinary Technology or Veterinary Technician, and successfully passed the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). Each provincial veterinary regulatory body may have additional conditions to become a Registered Veterinary Technologist or Technician. Veterinary Technology or Technician graduates who received their education internationally must contact their residing provincial regulatory or licensing body regarding requirements to practice.
Training for a career as an RVT includes two to three years of post-secondary education. In Canada, Animal Health Technology/Technician, Veterinary Technologist/Technician post-secondary programs are accredited by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), and in British Columbia also by the BC Veterinary Technologists Association (BCVTA). Aside from requiring certain vaccinations such as rabies and tetanus, each institution has their own registration and acceptance criteria so it’s important to check with the institution where you want to study.
The British Columbia Veterinary Technologists Association (BCVTA) and the Registered Veterinary Technologists and Technicians of Canada (RVTTC) have some great resources on programs and how to explore a career as an RVT. Check them out here:
Final Thoughts on RVT Month
We are always looking for RVTs to join our team. Being an RVT is a rewarding and challenging career, and we offer opportunities in our specialty hospital that many RVTs would not get elsewhere. If you are interested in becoming an RVT or would like to know more about careers at BBVSH, please visit our Careers page.
If you are a pet owner, make sure the next time you visit your vet to thank your RVT! They are vital to your pet care, and truly amazing individuals.
More reading and resources:
West Coast Veterinarian magazine: