Veterinary Technician Appreciation Week 2023

Dynamic Duos: What fully utilizing technicians really looks like

There is a lot of discourse right now on fully utilizing your technicians and assistants in practice. We’re spotlighting Dr. Justin Toth and Jennifer Thacker to demonstrate just how practical it is to center your practice around empowering your technicians to exercise their hard-earned, specialized skill set. This often frees DVMs up to spend more time on things that really require their medical degree, and leaves your support staff feeling challenged, fulfilled, and valued.

Dr. Toth, how has fully utilizing your technicians benefited your overall practice culture?

Full utilization of my technicians has allowed me to delegate many duties, freeing up more time to perform the tasks that require a DVM degree (Diagnose, treat, prescribe medication, surgery).  Because I have faith in my team, I know that the patient will continue to receive the same level of care after the handoff.

What are you as the DVM able to do now, that you could not do if you weren’t fully utilizing your technicians?

I can see more patients, which has been extremely helpful as demand continues to rise.

How are you celebrating your technicians during Tech Appreciation Week?

We have several things planned, such as lunch, gift cards, sweet treats, etc.  

As someone dedicated to developing their technicians, how do you celebrate and support them beyond this one week holiday?

Years ago, I decided to reward my technicians and the entire team throughout the year for all their hard work and not limit my appreciation to 1 week per year.  Examples include team outings (Braves Games, cooking classes), catered lunches at least once per month, a massage chair for our break room, and many others.

How do you differentiate technicians and assistants, and why is that important?

This is where I struggle at times.  Old habits often cause me to address an assistant as a technician.  Since many of my assistants are now CVA’s, I try to call my team members by their title (RVT, CVA, assistant).

Jennifer, how has working with a DVM that fully utilizes your skill set differed from other experiences?

I have been fairly lucky with my employers. Most have taken advantage of having a registered technician on staff, after an initial training period to learn protocols/policies for that particular hospital. I have always advocated for myself, and am usually able to demonstrate my skillset to be able to do as much as I can.

What is your favorite thing you do now as a fully utilized technician that you didn’t get to/didn’t know how to do before?

My favorite thing to do is client education. Part of that is having 20+ years of experience under my belt. I have learned it is Ok to admit that I don’t know things, but I can find out that information! I now know the questions to ask both the doctor and the client. I feel Dr. Toth has given me the support to be able to make some decisions on my own.

Tell us about a time where you felt supported by Dr. Toth when things were not going as planned.

I can’t think of a specific example. I have had instances in the past where a client may be upset with our policies or pricing, but I do feel like anytime there is an issue, Dr. Toth will back us up! He does not tolerate abuse from clients towards the staff. 

What advice can you offer to other technicians to help them start advocating for their under-utilized skills?

hen I first started working at Dallas Highway Animal Hospital, Dr. Toth had not worked with a registered technician for a while. Whenever there was something that I could do, I would ask if he was comfortable with me doing it. Sometimes, he would watch first, but often he would ask if I was OK doing it. We were able to take some things off of his plate- intubating patients for surgical procedures, performing cystocentesis, performing IM injections, and more. As time went on, he delegated more responsibilities for his technicians and assistants. If there is something that you feel comfortable doing, ask your DVM or practice owner if you can show them that you know how.