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  I have always wanted to work in the veterinary, specifically as a veterinary technician. However after I heard that they do not make a lot of money I decided that I would finish getting a nursing degree and work as a RN, while also working as a para-veterinary worker part time. I heard that vet tech school can be quite expensive so I am considering getting a veterinary assistant certification instead.
  My question is in regards to some things that veterinary assistants can do. For example, the reason why I wanted to become a vet tech is because techs can do a lot of animal welfare work. Some specific things include teaching pet behavior classes (so that any behavioral problems are abolished which leads to the pat not being relinquished), assisting at a feral cat spay/neuter clinic (like administering medication), providing nursing care to convalescent pets, and educating clients (about things such as pet care, the five basic needs of dogs/cats, environmental stimulation techniques, certain breed characteristics, and about some behavioral solutions). Therefore my question is can veterinary assistants do ALL OR SOME of the things that I have listed? If they can't do all of these things then what can they do from this list?
  Thank you for your time and I hope to hear from you soon!

Hi Summer,
While I don't normally answer these questions (because they don't pertain to actual pet problems) I feel I would be remiss to send you this information.

I have never worked with an Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA), I have read up on it.
Here is the information you need to decide what would be a better fit for you.

There is also a list of jobs approved for the AVA but I will include those for you in case you are unable to download them:

Essential Skills for Assistant Training (Effective September 2012)
I. Office and Hospital Procedures
A. Front Desk
1. Greet Clients
2. Demonstrate proper Appointment Scheduling and make appointments
3. Prepare appropriate certificates for sign
4. Admit patient
5. Perform basic filing and retrieving of medical records
6. Perform basic veterinary medical record keeping procedures
7. Demonstrate elementary computer skills
8. Utilize basic medical terminology
9. Perform basic invoi
cing, billing, and payment on account procedures
B. Telephone
1. Answer and direct phone call
2. Recognize and respond appropriately to veterinary medical emergencies, by notifying the
appropriate hospital personnel
3. Request records an
d information from other veterinary facilities
C. Maintain basic cleanliness and orderliness of a veterinary facility
1. Inventory supplies
2. Restock Shelves
3. Maintain x
ray, surgery, and laboratory logs
4. Perform basic filing and retrie
ving of medical records, radiographs, lab reports, etc.
5. Demonstrate knowledge of basic cleaning techniques of animal kennels and bedding,
examination rooms, hospital facilities, and surgical suites.
II. Communication and Client Relations
A. Develop effective Client communication skills.
B. Write Business Letters and professional electronic communication with clients.
C. Understand ethical conduct in relationship to the day to day operations of a vet hospital.
D. Describe the roles and responsibilities of each member of the veterinary health team and
the important part that each plays in the delivery of excellent care.
E. Professional Conduct
1. Understand the human
2. Demonstrate professional and appropriate appearance and language in the workplace
3. Demonstrate appropriate use of electronic communication in the workplace (cell phone usage, text
messaging, social networking, digital photography, etc.)
Ill. Pharmacy and Pharmacology
A. Legal Issues
1. Recognize legal issues involving drugs in the workplace
2. Recognize general types and groups of drugs and demonstrate proper terminology
3. Differentiate prescription drug
s from over
counter drugs and describe proper prescription label
B. Filling medications and inventory control
1. Label and package dispensed drugs correctly.
2. Store, safely handle and dispose of biological and therapeuti
c agents, pesticides, and
hazardous waste.
3. Perform inventory control procedures including restocking supplies and checking
expiration dates.
C. Vaccinations
1. Reconstitute vaccines and be familiar with prope
r protocols.
2. Describe possible routes and methods of drug and vaccine administration that the
veterinarian or
veterinary technician may choose and demonstrate appropriate small animal restraint for such
IV. Examination Room
A. Restrain Patients
1. Small Animals
a. Place and remove small animals from cages
b. Place and restrain small animals on tables
and floor
c. Apply dog and cat safety muzzle
d. Apply Elizabethan collar
e. Apply restraint po
f. Demonstrate standing, sitting and lateral restraint positions
g. Recognize when to alter normal restraint for compromised patients in the exam room (i.e.
Ringworm, Contagious diseases, Ectoparasite infestation) and describe appropriate a
or personnel to notify
2. Restrain Birds. Rabbits, Pocket Pets, and Exotics
3. Large Animals
a. Halter, tie, and lead horses
b. Restrain cattle & horses
c. Apply twitch
d. Apply nose tongs/ leads
e. Restra
int of sheep & swine
f. Load large animals
B. Basic Procedures
1. Determine and record temperature, pulse, respiration,
body condition score, a
nd weight of
2. Trim nails (Required: Cats and Dogs. Optional: Birds and Exotic
3. Express anal sacs using the external method.
4. Identify external parasites: mites, lice, fleas, and ticks.
5. Recognize AKC dog breeds and CFA cat breeds.
6. Be able to properly identify the gender of small animal species, particularly feli
7. Perform exam room grooming: i.e. trimming nails, external ear canal cleaning, etc.
8. Be familiar with small animal nutritional requirements, pet food labeling standards, dry
matter basis calculations, and the differences between pet foo
d products
V. Small Animal Nursing (Large Animal Nursing
A. Safety Concerns
1. Demonstrate knowledge of basic normal and abnormal animal behavior
2. Utilize patient & personnel safety measures
3. Identify potential Zoonoti
c diseases
4. Describe isolation procedures
5. Describe hazardous waste disposal
6. Describe basic sanitation
7. Be familiar with OSHA standards
B. Animal Care
1. Provide routine record
keeping, and observation of hospitalized patients, i.e.
importance of notations made when cleaning and feeding
2. Demonstrate a basic understanding of common diseases and medical conditions
3. Monitor/restrain patients for fluid therapy and record observations
4. Perform hand pilling (dog, c
5. Demonstrate understanding of treatment plan
6. Apply and remove bandages to healthy animals
(equine leg and tail wraps
7. Perform therapeutic bathing, basic grooming, and dipping of small animals
8. Clean external ear canals
Prepare food & prescription diets
be aware of any special dietary needs
10. Clean & disinfect cages and kennels (stalls
11. Provide care & maintenance of nursing equipment
12. Demonstrate an understanding of the euthanasia and post mor
tem care
VI. Surgical Preparation and Assisting
A. Assist in performing surgical preparations
1. Prepare surgical equipment/supplies
2. Sterilize instruments & supplies using appropriate methods
3. Identify common instruments
4. Identify com
mon suture materials, types, and sizes
5. Assist the veterinarian and/or veterinary technician with preparation of patients using
aseptic technique
6. Operate and maintain autoclaves
7. Describe operating room sanitation & care
8. Assist with
positioning of surgical patients
9. Aid the veterinarian/and or veterinary technician with physical monitoring of recovering
surgical patients
10. Maintain the Surgical Log
B. Facility and Equipment Cleanliness
1. Maintain pro
per operating room conduct and asepsis
2. Perform post
surgical clean up
3. Fold surgical gowns and drapes
C. Have knowledge of:
1. Surgical equipment
2. Surgical room and prep area
3. Instrument cleaning and care
. Proper disposal of h
azardous medical wastes
VII. Laboratory Procedures
A. Assistance in the laboratory
1. Collect voided urine samples
2. Determine physical properties of urine including color and clarity
3. Assist in the collection of blood samples f
or procedures
4. Collect voided fecal samples for
5. Prepare fecal flotation solutions and set up fecal flotations
and direct smears
6. Assist
the DVM or veterinary technician
in necropsy procedures
7. Explain how to handle rabies suspec
ts & samples safely
8. Handle disposal of
B. Laboratory Record Keeping
1. Ensure all lab
results are accurately recorded
2. Stock lab
3. File lab
VIII. Radiology & Ultrasound Imaging
A. Follow recommended safety measures.
B. Assist the veterinarian and/or the veterinary technician in the completion of diagnostic
radiographs and ultrasound including the restraint and positioning of patients.
C. Process diagnostic radiographs.
D. Use hand
automatic processing in darkroom
E. Maintain quality control
F. Label, file, and store film and radiographs
G. Properly care for equipment
H. Clean screens
I. Know safety techniques for handling

Personally, I feel that if you are going to put that much time and effort into anything why not just get your RVT credential? That's what I would've have done if I was faced with this choice. I got my two licenses basically through the "Alternative Route" method.

The cost is always a concern but you would be less likely to be able to pay off a loan as an AVA as you would as a Vet Tech. Most practices are going to be looking for RVT's to hire, as the AVA designation is very new and there are mixed feelings about it on both sides of the fence.

Good luck in whatever it is you do!!  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 42 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love. I also Teach Veterinary Technology to working technicians who are studying to take their California Tests to become Licensed Technicians. They have to take both the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam) and the California boards.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.


Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 1500 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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