National Vet Tech Week 2012


This year, National Veterinary Technician Week is October 14-20, and in honor of that, we thought we’d explain a little about the ways to become a veterinary technician, the different terminology used by those in the field, and what the job entails.

Many people mistakenly refer to veterinary technicians as the “doctor’s assistant.” While at times this can be technically true, it is not fully accurate. For instance, “veterinary assistant” is a separate job title with separate job responsibilities. Additionally, while often a stepping stone to becoming a veterinary technician, it need not be.

There are a couple basic routes that individuals take to become a veterinary technician. For some, on-the-job training is the way to go. Often people who go this route begin working at a veterinary practice in the kennel or at the front desk, move up to become a veterinary assistant, and, eventually, hone their knowledge and skills and transition to the role of veterinary technician. Other individuals choose to take a more formal route. Many colleges offer veterinary technician programs (usually an associate’s degree, though some 4-year schools offer a bachelor’s degree, providing the student the title “veterinary technologist” instead); typically these programs offer standard lecture classes in combination with more practical laboratories and off-site externships, affording students the chance to practice the hands-on skills that are crucial to any veterinary professional: proper handling and restraint techniques, vital sign reading, intravenous catheter placement, and the like.

However, many of the responsibilities of a veterinary technician are those intangibles that are so important to any health care professional: paying attention to the patient, looking for changes that can indicate something going wrong—or right, noticing trends, and synthesizing information from various sources, including owners, veterinarians, the technicians on the previous shift, teachers, and textbooks.

Veterinary technicians may be certified, licensed, or registered (CVT, LVT, and RVT respectively); all mean about the same thing—it just depends on what state a technician lives in. In Pennsylvania, we are certified veterinary technicians, for instance. Up until a couple of years ago, anyone could take the national licensing exam and add that often coveted word in front of their title. Now, however, sitting for the national exam requires a technician to be a graduate of an accredited veterinary technician school.

Adding more terminology to the mix is the fact that some veterinary technicians prefer to call themselves “nurses.”

Veterinary technicians can work in a variety of settings. They might choose to work in a large emergency and referral hospital like Hope Veterinary Specialists. This environment is often faster paced and higher stress; the hours are also less “standard,” as shifts around the clock must be covered. Or, technicians might choose to work at a small, private practice where they grow along with their patients and clients, ensuring pets are up to date on required shots, have preventative testing, and are generally happy and healthy. Other veterinary technicians might choose to work with large animals at facilities such as equine centers or dairy farms. Still others love the challenge of the laboratory environment, working with animals of all sizes. Opportunities may also exist with pharmaceutical and pet food companies.

No matter where they choose to work, veterinary technicians give their jobs their all. While certainly a positive trait, it can lead even the safest technician to not only bites, scratches, and back injuries but also to compassion fatigue. It’s important to keep in mind that the job is not all puppies and kittens. While there are some, days can be filled with aged (or even young) animals with a variety of health problems or with curious and energetic animals who have found their way into the path of oncoming vehicles—or other animals. Some technicians even see evidence of abuse. Also, euthanasia is a frequent, if not daily, occurrence.

But every technician entered the field as a result of their love for animals. Their primary goal is to keep each furry or scaled best friend at his or her best. So, if you see your favorite CVT, LVT, RVT, or technician this week, be sure to wish him or her a happy veterinary technician week! Your appreciation is the icing on the cake.


Back to School Blues


With kids back to school last month, you might be noticing something about your pet that you hadn’t expected. Is it possible he or she is experiencing back-to-school blues?

After spending months of long summer days with their pint-sized (or bigger!) best friends, dogs—and even cats—can get depressed. This might even be more true for companions of kids who have gone off to college.

Annd remember, if you are upset about a child’s departure—either for the day or for the semester—your pet will pick up on your feelings, too.

So, if you are noticing some recent-onset lethargy (or hyperactivity) in your pet, or even some vocalizing and mopey-ness, you might need to pay a little extra attention to your heartbroken furry friend. There are specific things you can do as well.

Exercise seems to be a good bet. As with people, exercise can stimulate endorphin release, and this can help improve mood.

Another step to take might be to provide your pet with an article of the child’s clothing, giving the animal a sense of comfort with a familiar scent.

(Similarly, clients whose pets need to stay at Hope Veterinary Specialists overnight often leave tee shirts or other items with them so they are surrounded by a familiar scent. This is fine with us, as long as you understand that with our huge laundry operation, should we need to wash your item, you may not ever see it again…)

As with so many other things, however, the answer to the problem is usually time. Give your dog or cat a bit to adjust to the new situation, and he or she will be just fine—and back to his or her self in no time!

(Idea for entry from

Dog reading image from


Veterinary Technician Specialists at Hope VS


Veterinary Technician Specialists
Credentialed veterinary technicians who want to expand their knowledge may choose to become a specialist. A vet tech specialist designation (VTS) requires a huge amount of work on the part of the technician and can include such things as logging thousands of clinical hours, organizing and submitting detailed case logs, and passing rigorous exams.

Hope Veterinary Specialists is proud to boast we have four vet tech specialists at our referral hospital with a few others in the works. Word is out that we have developed a great mentor program for other nurses in the area to gain their critical care experience with us and apply for this certification. We weren’t surprised by this piece of information: we’ve known all along we are home to the most dedicated and experienced nurses around!

Technicians who choose to specialize have many options to choose from (thanks to for the list):

Recently, another of our Emergency Services nurses, Samantha Frabizzio, earned the designation of specialist from the Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians after successfully submitting all required documentation and passing the exam. She joins the following staff members, who had previously earned this impressive title:

Brandy Terry, CVT (VTS, ECC)

Caryn McCleary, CVT (VTS, ECC)

Rachel Keyser, CVT (VTS, ECC)

Hope Veterinary Specialists strives to provide you and your pet with the best possible service, and if you’ve ever had the opportunity to interact with any our nurses, you know they are all compassionate, caring, and knowledgeable individuals. The VTS designation is that something extra that helps our nurses, and our hospital, stand out from the crowd!

Stories of Hope: Rudy


Rudy, an 11-year-old male neutered Dachshund, saw his primary veterinarian in mid-April of 2009 because of vomiting and diarrhea. At that time, he was diagnosed with gastroenteritis and prescribed medications for his gastrointestinal system. It is important to note that at that visit, Rudy’s skin was completely normal.

A week later, Rudy started to have some crusting on his ears; the following week, he developed much more severe crusting on his ears, foot pads, and abdomen–and he was still vomiting. Antibiotic therapy had no effect.

So, on April 28, 2009, Rudy visited the Emergency Services department at HVS and was referred immediately to our Dermatology department. The dermatology team did skin biopsies, which revealed an immune-mediated disease known as Pemphigus foliaceus (PF). Also during Rudy’s visit, the team learned that Rudy had been on Promeris, a topical flea/tick medication.

Rudy was prescribed prednisone (a steroid) and azathioprine an immune-system suppressant), and by the end of May of 2009, he showed dramatic improvement. By September of that year, Rudy was able to be weaned off the azathioprine and maintained on the prednisone. Rudy last visited the Dermatology department at HVS in May of 2011, and he is still doing great!

Promeris, the topical flea/tick medication Rudy was on, was removed from the market in 2011 because it had been linked to causing PF in multiple dogs. Rudy is extra special in that he was the Dermatology department’s first case of Promeris-related PF, and, clearly, he counts as one of their most successful cases!

Thank you, Derm team!



Welcome to the Hope Veterinary Specialists’ blog. We’re glad you found us; after all, we’re here for you and your beloved pets 24 hours a day!

To begin, we have a new name. While our name used to be Animal Care and Specialty Group (ACCSG), a lot of people (mistakenly) knew us as the Veterinary Referral Center, or “VRC,” and that’s part of the reason we’ve started this blog: we thought it was high time you get to know the real us! And, to that end, we’ve changed our name to Hope Veterinary Specialists to better reflect our mission.

Here’s a bit more explanation: It’s true that Hope Veterinary Specialists (HVS) is currently located within VRC, but HVS is actually its own individual entity. Here is how it works: “VRC” is the overarching name of a building that houses several businesses, including those providing soft tissue and orthopedic surgeries to small animals, for instance. And, as we’ve mentioned, one of those individual businesses is HVS, formerly ACCSG, the region’s leader in advanced veterinary medical care for dogs and cats. That’s us!

We provide 24-hour emergency and critical care 7 days a week, along with a variety of board certified specialists to help your pet with his or her healthcare needs. From cardiology to dermatology, internal medicine to radiology, we have the skilled doctors and experienced nurses you need to put your mind at ease—and your pets in the best possible hands.

Check back here often for updates on HVS and our people, along with some other interesting post topics, too, including those featuring patient stories and updates, charitable information, disease explanations, pet health tips, and more.

While we hope you never need us, if you do, we’re here: 340 Lancaster Avenue, Malvern. And, you can reach us at any hour of any day at 610.296.2099.