The Many Roles of a Veterinary Assistant

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  • 0:03 Who is a Veterinary Assistant?
  • 0:40 The Scientist and Doctor
  • 1:57 The Bodybuilder and Politician
  • 3:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will define who a veterinary assistant is and some of the many roles a veterinary assistant may need to perform in a veterinary clinic or hospital.

Who Is a Veterinary Assistant?

What do you get when you combine a scientist, doctor, bodybuilder, and politician? A veterinary assistant of course! A veterinary assistant is a team member who helps to assist veterinarians and veterinary technicians with their roles in a clinic or hospital.

I used to be a veterinary assistant for many years prior to becoming a veterinarian, and while I might exaggerate just a bit on the combination of careers a veterinary assistant encompasses, you'll find out soon enough how a little bit of each is actually found in the many roles of the veterinary assistant!

The Scientist and Doctor

So, a veterinary assistant needs to play the role of a scientist and a doctor at the clinic every now and then! Let's see why.

Like a scientist, you may be tasked with preparing certain things in the laboratory section of the hospital you work in. It could be that you're asked to help prepare a blood smear using a microscope slide so the veterinarian can take a look at it. A blood smear is a test that analyzes the number, shape, and kind of blood cells found in the sample. It might be that you'll also have to help prepare a fecal flotation, a test that helps detect the presence of intestinal parasites in cats and dogs. These tests, and more, require you to have laboratory skills like any scientist does.

You'll also play some roles that are traditionally thought of as being a nurse's or a doctor's job. For instance, the veterinarian may ask you to help them or a veterinary technician (nurse) give a patient a pill or to re-wrap a bandage around a leg. You might be tasked with handing a veterinarian surgical instruments during an operation or adjusting the flow rate of anesthetic gas during a procedure if a veterinary technician is not around.

The Bodybuilder and Politician

Speaking of helping a veterinarian or veterinary nurse with medical tasks, you need to be a bodybuilder for some of these roles! Okay, maybe not to the extent of good old Arnold Schwarzenegger, but still, you need to be strong.

The obvious stuff here is having the strength to restrain a 150 lb mastiff while the veterinarian does his stuff or the veterinary technician takes an x-ray. During such cases, by the way, it's best you get one or two people to help you, especially if you happen to be slightly vertically challenged!

But there's less obvious stuff. At least for me, it was always a much bigger challenge restraining little squirmers than it was bigger dogs. That's because there's so little to safely hold on to. Therefore, it takes a lot of properly applied strength and technique to hold the uncooperative little ones, too!

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