An effective large animal veterinary technician must fill many roles and develop a skill set much different from a small animal technician. There are obvious differences with animal handling or treatment of cattle, horses, swine, or small ruminants compared to cats and dogs. However, one of the most significant differences come in client communications and “speaking the language.” That could come in the form of knowing how to perpetually complain about the weather with the local dairyman or figuring out what the heck a “half-pass” means or does it matter if the horse can’t switch it gaits. The clients are the reason we choose to provide on-farm care but they can also be very intimidating to the novice technician. The learning curve can be steep if not familiar with agriculture or equine disciplines but it will turn out to be a rewarding and exceptional experience once the ice is broken.
Large animal medicine has changed drastically over the last few decades and more stress is being placed on biosecurity and animal/food safety than ever before. With these changes comes the importance of proper medical records and documentation of all diagnostics and treatments. CVI’s, Coggins, vaccination records, brucellosis/TB testing, medical records, billing…the paper work can be crippling. However, an organized and detailed oriented technician can keep the essential documentation under control, allowing the veterinarian to focus on providing the best possible care. Use of large animal veterinary technicians in an ambulatory practice goes way beyond an extra hand to hold a horse or cow but can be an essential part of the efficiency and success of the practice by being an integral part of patient care, client communication, and administrative roles.