How to Become a Surgical Veterinary Aide

What is a Surgical Veterinary Aide?

Surgical veterinary aides, also known as surgical veterinary assistants, monitor non-farm animals (i.e. dogs, cats, etc.) in veterinary clinics before, during, and after surgical procedures and medical treatments. These aides also feed and bathe animals, clean and sterilize surgical instruments, collect urine, feces, and blood samples, take X-rays, and clean animal crates, kennels, and cages. Surgical veterinary aides are normally supervised by veterinarians. If you decide to pursue a career as a surgical veterinary aide, you will have daily interactions with patients (animals) and their parents (owners).

It is also important to note there will probably be times when you may have to help a veterinarian euthanize an animal. Moreover, you may also have to treat animal that have been severely abused and/or neglected. Furthermore, your risk of personal injury may be heightened due to animal attacks. As a veterinarian aide, you will be expected to work evenings, weekends, overtime, and some holidays. If you have are wondering how to become a surgical veterinarian aide, you have come to the right place. This article will give you the “ins and outs” of entering the veterinarian medicine field, as a surgical veterinarian aide.

What are the Job Duties of a Surgical Veterinary Aide?

The majority of surgical veterinarian aides work at kennels, animal clinics, animal hospitals, grooming shops, and veterinarian offices. As a veterinarian assistant, you will assist veterinarians and veterinarian technicians with surgical procedures and medical treatments. In addition to prepping animals for surgery, assisting during surgery, and providing care after surgery, you may also be required to answer phones, schedule appointments, maintain and file patient records, answer parent (owner) questions, and/or order offices, medical and/or surgical supplies.

Veterinary aides typically perform the following job duties:

  • Feeding, bathing, and exercising animals
  • Weighing animals and taking their temperatures
  • Passing surgical instruments to veterinarians during surgery
  • Cleaning and disinfecting animal crates, examination rooms, and operation rooms
  • Restraining animals during examinations, testing, laboratory procedures, and medical procedures
  • Maintaining and sterilizing surgical instruments
  • Safely transporting animals to surgery
  • Monitoring and treating animals, following surgery
  • Providing emergency first aid to sick, wounded, and/or injured animals
  • Administering prescribed medications and/or immunizations
  • Collecting blood, feces, urine, and tissue samples for assessment

What are the Educational Requirements to Become a Surgical Veterinary Aide?

To become a surgical veterinarian aide, you will need to first acquire a high school diploma or GED. You will also need to attain some level of experience (i.e. on-the-job-training). It is important to note that you can become a surgical veterinarian aide with just a high school diploma or GED, but some veterinarian clinics may prefer employees who have formal education in veterinary assisting.

In addition, you may also be required to perform clerical duties so it is important to have strong written and verbal communication skills. While in your veterinary assisting program, you may learn how to manage and care for both small and large animals with various health conditions.

What is the Average Salary of a Surgical Veterinary Aide?

As of May 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can expect to make approximately $26,140 per year, as a veterinarian assistant/aide. If you fall in the lower 10%, you can expect to make approximately $19,110, per year, but if you fall in the upper 10%, you can expect to make $38,300 or more, per year.

Surgical veterinarian assistants/aides that perform research studies tend to make the highest salaries. Moreover, many research laboratories and animal hospitals are open 24 hours a day, therefore the surgical veterinarian aides that work in these facilities often have to work nights, weekends, overtime, and/or holidays.

What is the Career Outlook for Surgical Veterinary Aides?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall career outlook for surgical veterinarian assistants/aides is positive. Although some veterinarian offices, animal clinics and animal hospitals may prefer employees with degrees, and higher-level skills (i.e. veterinarian technologists and technicians), veterinarian assistance careers are expected to continue their growth patterns.

Moreover, there is a high turnover rate in this field, so jobs will continue to be available for veterinarian assistants/aides in the future. The Bureau reports that veterinarian assistants/aides job opportunities are expected to increase approximately 19% by the year 2026. This increase will stem from a boost in pet health care. In other words, more and more people are adopting pets, who need medical care. The increase in customers will lead to an increased need for veterinarian assistants/aides.

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