Written by Vet Tech Shontelle Thomas of Tauranga Te Puna Katikati Papamoa Village Vets

I like to describe a Veterinary Technologist as a step between a diploma vet nurse and a veterinarian. We hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Massey University where we study alongside future veterinarians, in most aspects.

The main differences between us, and veterinarians is:

  • We are not legalised to provide diagnoses to clients.
  • We cannot prescribe medication without permission from a vet.
  • We cannot enter body cavities or perform surgery independently.

In saying that, there is still a lot that we learn during our 3-year degree. We learn everyday small animal hospital things like catheters, anesthesia, blood draws and companion animal nursing. These things are covered in the diploma. We differentiate by studying cytology, hematology, parasitology, dentistry and radiography. We learn the why behind the how.

An example of this is all nurses and techs learn how to take a blood sample and run the sample, but we learn why we are taking the sample and to interpret results for common disease processes. When it is a busy day and the vet is under the pump, we are available to bounce ideas from and be a right-hand aid to help prevent any human errors.

Another point of difference is the Veterinary Technologist program also include large animals, equine and exotics. This made for very interesting and diverse topics. Unfortunately, the Veterinary Technologist program has lost funding so is no longer available for study.