Veterinary Technicians Key to Underserved Rural Areas

Veterinary technicians can keep the heart of the practice beating, if they're utilized effectively. ( Adobe Spark )

Imagine working less and serving more clients. Is it hard to picture? Maybe it’s time to reimagine what you’re doing—and whether you’re effectively utilizing a critical member of your veterinary team.

Veterinary technicians can be a solution to underserved rural areas, says Dr. K. Fred Gingrich II, the Executive Director of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP). 

“A lot of times veterinarians in those communities are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the workload can be tremendous,” he says. “And veterinary technicians have the skills and the expertise, that they can do some of those technical procedures, as well as train producers to do those technical procedures, which then frees up the veterinarian to do the things that they are experts at,” he says.  

There are a number of opportunities for veterinary technicians to grow within the veterinary profession, and those opportunities don't stop at the private practice, says Dr. Jason Nickell.

“I would urge you to gain as much experience there as possible. But I would also encourage you to look at opportunities within academia, opportunities within industry opportunities potentially within government,” he says.

Nickell also encourages the veterinary profession to look to human healthcare and how they utilize nurses, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants as a model to explore to serve rural areas where producer numbers are holding steady but there are fewer large animal veterinarians. 

Dr. Geof Smith, professor of ruminant medicine at North Carolina State University School of Veterinary Medicine, agrees. 

“I think learning how to use technicians appropriately and food animal practice can be a great builder, particularly in those practices where you're covering a lot of territory,” he says. “Maybe use the veterinary technician. Veterinarians don't always have to be on every farm, and we can find ways to utilize those technicians and help us in our day-to-day role.”

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