When referring to the employees of a small animal veterinary clinic, there are a lot of acronyms involved. The staff is made up of ACAs, RVTs, CCRs, and DVMs. When you bring your pet to the clinic, you are likely to interact with each of these staff members. There is considerable value to be gained from a thorough understanding of each of these roles and the essential contributions that each makes towards the well-being of your pet.
ACA – Animal Care Assistant
Throughout your pets visit with us, our four-legged friends may have a nervous pee in the waiting area or exam room. They may also shed handfuls of fur. The reason all areas of the clinic remain clean and comfortable throughout the day is because the Animal Care Assistants make sure to tend to them on a regular basis. They are quick on their feet as they go from room to room performing detailed husbandry. They also seamlessly take care of the trails of the mess that sometimes get left behind by our doctors and techs!
If your pet is going to stay with us for the day, the ACAs make them a cozy home to stay in. They pile in fluffy blankets, provide fresh cool water and yummy snacks throughout the day depending on the nature of the patients. The ACAs also take your pet outside and/or change litter boxes as needed. They may be the ones to notice that your pet is showing signs of pain/distress and bring it to the attention of the DVM or RVT as they check on your pet regularly to see that all of their needs are met.
The Animal Care Attendants are also master restrainers. They often hold your pet and speak to them soothingly while the technicians or doctors perform treatments. They scratch your pet’s ears and chin and make sure they know how brave they are. The duties of the ACAs require physical fitness, dedication, and a love for animals. Your pets comfort and perpetual reduction of anxiety that we prioritize is in large part due to the vigilance and compassion of our ACAs.
RVT – Registered Veterinary Technician
In order to obtain registered status, these technicians have successfully completed an accredited program for Veterinary Technology and passed the Veterinary Technician National Exam. They have also completed a Professionalism and Ethics workshop, as well as a Police Check. While governed by the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians, they also complete mandatory Continuing Education each year to remain current with veterinary knowledge and treatment. All of these qualifications prepare technicians with a multitude of skills and a considerable expanse of knowledge. RVTs perform various nursing tasks, including drawing blood, placing intravenous catheters, and administering injections and medications. They are also essential to surgeries. RVTs prepare your pet for surgery, monitor them under anesthesia, and recover them post-operatively.
With a thorough knowledge of commonly prescribed medications, technicians also act as veterinary pharmacists by filling prescriptions for your pet. In addition, technicians are prepared to complete lab work, including fecal flotations, urinalysis, and skin or ear cytology. RVTs are also skilled with performing radiographs of your pet for the doctors to assess. Technicians are able to admit patients and obtain a history as well as perform emergency triage as needed.
Most importantly, RVTs have a persistent love of animals and have pursued this challenging yet rewarding career for that very reason. Sore feet, compassion fatigue, and scratched arms are all worth it to see the difference that proper veterinary care can make in a pets life, and the difference a well-cared-for the pet can make in the life of their owners.
CCR – Client Care Representative
Our Client Care Representatives are the first faces that you see when you walk in the door. They are the calm voices you hear when you call with an emergency, and the compassionate understanding you receive when you reach out with difficult questions. They act as the bridge of communication between you and your clinician when a game of phone tag inevitably ensues in the middle of a workday. They make sure that your call is returned, or that your concern is addressed. They remind you when your pets are due for medications or treatments to keep our patients on top of preventative veterinary medicine.
CCR’s are masters of multi-tasking. They answer phones, check-in patients, and invoice clients out. They book surgeries and find ways to accommodate the scheduling needs of both clients and doctors, even when it seems impossible to do so. They remain calm in difficult situations. They are always happy to greet the newest of kittens and the slowest of senior dogs. With a fierce love of animals, our Client Care Representatives make sure to keep the patients, clients, and staff members on track.
DVM – Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
The Veterinarians of the clinic have become accredited by completing a doctorate program in Veterinary Medicine. With their license number, they hold significant responsibility in carrying out the best medicine available to them. They are governed by the College of Veterinarians of Ontario and complete annual Continuing Education to remain up to date and maximally capable of treating your furry family members.
These doctors are the problem solvers and detectives of the practice. They receive results from lab work and radiographs, and they use this knowledge combined with the history provided to them to make a diagnosis and prognosis for your pet. They prescribe medication and carry out treatments accordingly. They monitor progress and make adjustments based on the specific needs of both the owners and the pets.
They are also surgeons! Our highly skilled veterinarians are well equipped to perform a wide variety of surgeries including orchiectomies (neuters), ovariohysterectomies (spays), cystotomies and foreign body removals. They can also complete dental extractions and perform wound repairs. The doctors also have a vast knowledge of medications and their uses or contraindications in different species. The doctors care deeply for each and every one of their patients, and they continue to think about them long after the workday has ended.
*Special mention – Our Office Manager, though acronym free, is an essential part of the practice! This role requires a wealth of compassion for people and pets alike. Filling in wherever help is needed in a pinch, the Office Manager makes sure to care for each and every staff member when we get so busy that we forget to care for ourselves.
Written by: Shelby Walsh, RVT