How technician usage drives practice efficiency and wellbeing

Published on September 25, 2019

Veterinary technicians do crucial work that contributes to both patient care and practice economics. With National Veterinary Technician Week coming up October 13-19, it’s a great time to re-evaluate how we integrate these important team members.

In day-to-day practice, it’s not unusual for both veterinarians and technicians to sometimes find themselves performing tasks that don’t require their full level of education. That’s expensive for the practice and can be frustrating for all team members.

It also means that we have a real opportunity to boost both efficiency and team wellbeing by understanding and using the full skillsets of all employees, including technicians.

As AVMA President Dr. John Howe says: “Wellbeing is an important concern for us all as veterinarians, and we’re always looking at ways to enhance both profitability and the quality of care we provide patients. Maximizing the utilization of veterinary technicians is essential to reach all of those goals.”

Tasks for technicians

Well-trained technicians can take on a wide range of responsibilities that free up veterinarians in their day-to-day work – for example: talking with clients about medications, euthanasia, or diet; performing simple medical procedures; or assisting in surgery. Many technicians have specialty training, in areas ranging from anesthesia to behavior.

The more fully we utilize these abilities, the better positioned we are to run healthy, successful practices. That’s because both practice efficiency and job satisfaction are linked to efficient technician utilization:

Tips to use technicians more fully

AVMA’s chief economist offered tips for assessing and optimizing staffing and technician utilization in a recent article in DVM 360 magazine: “More veterinary technicians, higher practice efficiency.” The article identifies benchmarks that can help assess a practice’s staffing levels, and gives practical ideas to identify where technicians’ education can be put to greater use. For a deeper dive, AVMA Axon offers a 1-credit CE webinar: “How well do you utilize veterinary technicians?”

Meanwhile, the AVMA has been collecting data on how technicians are being used in the most efficient practices. We’ll begin sharing those findings at our annual Economic Summit in October.

We’re also eager to share updates on the work of the AVMA Task Force on Technician Utilization, whose volunteers are looking at issues like financial and career sustainability, task delegation, and the wellbeing of both technicians and practices.

The AVMA supports technicians through a close partnership with NAVTA, providing association management and other support services to help NAVTA and its members thrive.

Tools to celebrate Veterinary Technician Week

The AVMA joins NAVTA in celebrating National Veterinary Technician Week each year, including by offering free social media images that anyone can download and use. We’re also planning a live webinar on October 14 via AVMA Axon to discuss a variety of career opportunities for technicians – stay tuned for more details on that.

Here are other ways in which we all can celebrate and support technicians:

When we fully integrate technicians in a way that uses all of their skills, we free up veterinarians to spend more time on work that only veterinarians can do. Veterinarians are happier, technicians are happier, and the whole practice can operate more efficiently.

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