Published on February 22, 2022
Long days, stressed environments, and competing priorities are typical for today’s Registered veterinary technicians/technologists (RVT). Add pandemic restrictions, heightened health measures, and anxious pet owners to the mix, and one can see why the risks of burnout are real.
“Working on the floor as an RVT in a hospital can be very challenging because you are pulled in so many different directions, from answering the phone to assisting veterinarians,” says Nicole Brown, RVT and Account Executive at CDMV*, As rewarding as the job can be, it’s no secret that the days can be taxing. “The good news, says Nicole, is there are simple techniques to help manage the workload and stay ahead.”
Keep a list
RVTs are often asked to tackle many jobs at once, and writing these down helps avoid becoming overwhelmed and ensures no tasks fall between the cracks.
Knowing what needs to be done now, as opposed to what can wait, is a crucial skill for RVTs. And though it can be difficult to prioritize at the moment, it can help to ask veterinarians what they believe is the highest priority and adjust your list from there.
Of course, says Nicole, it also pays to be flexible with one’s priorities: “We can block off time for call-backs, but we must be extremely flexible and know that there are going to be things that may compromise that scheduled time.”
RVTs cannot bring their best selves to the job if they’re tired, stressed, or otherwise burnt out. As such, it’s important to prioritize your physical and mental health so that you can remain an effective and engaged part of the team.
“This is a mentally and physically demanding job,” admits Nicole. “The demands quickly add up, so you need to make sure you take care of yourself first.”
Multi-task when possible
There are always items on a list that can be grouped. For example, some lab equipment may run more than one sample at once, or some tests can be batched together to save time. Still, while there is value in finding ways to do multiple jobs at once, make sure you’re actually saving time.
“For example, a task that might take 10 minutes when done on its own might take 12 minutes when doing five or six at a time, explains Nicole. We just need to make sure that we multitask intelligently because being pulled in too many directions at once can also be negative.”
Seize cross-training opportunities
Remember, you’re part of a team. If you’re sharing the floor with other RVTs or trainees, consider ways you can use items on your list as a cross-training opportunity.
“The veterinarian may ask you to do something like run blood work or wrap surgery packs, and if you’ve crossed-trained other employees, and this can be a great opportunity to lean on individuals on the team who may not be RVTs but perhaps may want more responsibility,” notes Nicole.
“There are tasks that only technicians and should do, but it’s always a plus when others can learn on the job”, says Nicole.
Stay in communication
Everything runs smoother when everyone is on the same page. So while it’s easy to get wrapped up in one’s own activities, there is value in connecting with veterinarians and other RVTs throughout the day to ensure priorities are aligned, everyone is on task, and that nothing is falling off the radar.
Make peace with saying “no”
It’s ok to set boundaries, especially when accepting new jobs or responsibilities will impede your ability to do your best work. Learning how to effectively communicate that your schedule is full and you cannot take on additional tasks is a valuable skill.
“If you’re taking on too many tasks, you may not be able to provide the same quality service, says Nicole. You may also become overwhelmed, and, in that case, you won’t be of help to anyone.”
Being an RVT was demanding before the pandemic. Now, with even more challenges, RVTs owe it to themselves to embrace mindsets and strategies that prioritize their wellbeing while enabling them to perform at their best.
*Nicole Brown is an RVT and Account Executive at CDMV, a Canada-wide distributor dedicated to supplying and supporting veterinary practices.