A day in the life of…a Veterinary Assistant!

What do the Veterinary Assistants do?

Veterinary Assistants are responsible for handling animals while they are at Blum as well as managing the upkeep of the hospital. Every one of the Assistants goes through a strict two week training session with instruction and guidance on low stress handling of dogs/cats, and anesthetic recovery.

But most importantly, the Veterinary Assistants assist the pets! Everything they do revolves around our clients’ furry family members and making sure they feel safe and comfortable when they are at Blum. The Assistants do everything they can to make all pets feel secure – from adding Feliway to towels to reduce a cat’s stress to finding a good scratching spot on a pup to help them stay calm during an exam. From the very first visit, our Veterinary Assistants want to reinforce a positive experience for all pets.

What is a typical day for a Veterinary Assistant?

Similar to the Veterinary Care Coordinators, the Assistants have a morning and an afternoon shift due to Blum’s extended hours. The morning team lines up at the far end of the lobby ready to welcome the morning admits into Blum. When pets are admitted for dental cleanings, surgeries or other diagnostics, the Veterinary Assistants greet them at the front and escort them to our treatment area where a comfortable space has been prepared for them to rest before their procedure.

Photo courtesy of Blum Animal Hospital

Exam room – Photo courtesy of Blum Animal Hospital

Once appointments begin, each Assistant is assigned to a doctor with whom they will help for the day. As each appointment arrives, the Veterinary Assistant greets the client and their furry family member in the lobby, escorts them to the room and takes a detailed medical history to relay to the Veterinarian. Then the Assistant leaves the room for a brief period of time to relay the information to the doctor and prepare any necessary vaccinations. During the nose to tail exam with the doctor, the Veterinary Assistant holds the pet. If any further treatments or diagnostics are needed after the exam, the Assistant takes the cat or dog to the treatment areas where they will help the Veterinarian or Technician with any blood draws, x-rays, ultrasounds, nail trims or anything similar of that nature. Once everything is finished, the Veterinary Assistant takes the pet back to the lobby and will relay any go-home instructions to the owner.

Photo courtesy of Blum Animal Hospital

Recovering a pet – Photo courtesy of Blum Animal Hospital

There is always at least one assistant who is assigned to help with any anesthetic procedures. The Assistant’s job is to help the Technician sedate and intubate the patient, and then hook the pet up to anesthetic monitoring equipment which checks their vitals during the procedure. During this time they will also perform a nail trim and any other cosmetic needs (such as ear cleanings) while the pet is under anesthesia. After the procedure is finished, the Veterinary Assistant monitors the pet’s recovery until they are standing again, ensuring the cat or dog is fully awake and there are no complications from the anesthesia. Just like with appointments, an assistant is assigned to a doctor on their surgery day and will work exclusively with that doctor and their technician on each surgical procedure, prepping the surgical suite before each one.

Photo courtesy of Blum Animal Hospital

Assisting with a technician appointment + giving love to an in-hospital pet – Photo courtesy of Blum Animal Hospital

Throughout the day, there are at least two assistants who “float.” This means they are ready to help wherever they are needed, such as with technician appointments or assisting a client to their car with food or to help their pet in. These floating assistants are also responsible for walking and feeding the in-hospital dogs and cats, and making sure they are comfortable in their space. At the end of the day, all available evening assistants will clean the hospital thoroughly from top to bottom. Since Blum is an American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) accredited practice, cleanliness is a key part of the high level of medical service we provide. Throughout the day, the Veterinary Assistants are proactively cleaning by vacuuming, mopping, doing laundry and scrubbing/sterilizing any instruments used.

Our Veterinary Assistants are the jack of all trades for Blum. They literally assist with almost everything the Veterinarians, Technicians or Veterinary Care Coordinators throw at them. They are always willing to lend an extra hand!

Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jackie Sheppard.