Working at FVH…What’s it like to work in a veterinary hospital?

GuthrieEver wonder what it would be like to work at FVH? Do you have a child that one day dreams of being a veterinarian? So often I receive emails from eager individuals of all ages wanting to find a way to get their foot in the door at FVH or simply seeking advice on how to become a Veterinarian or Licensed Vet Tech (LVT). Well, let me give you the inside scoop on what it takes to have a fulfilling and productive career working with animals.

First and foremost, compassion: the secret ingredient in every great veterinary employee. Some days it’s all purrs and wagging tails from our patients, while other days it is hisses and growls. No matter what the disposition of the animal we work with, a seasoned employee empathizes with their patient. And with every patient comes the human owner just as worthy of compassion and empathy. Understanding and honoring the human-animal bond is quintessential to developing the foundation of compassion.

Next, communication skills are paramount to the success of every employee at this hospital and throughout the industry. Cats and dogs can give us subtle cues as to what ails them, but it is the owner that provides the real clues to getting to the root of the problem. Effective communication skills make each employee a detective, instructor, and active listener during times of crisis for each and every client that walks through the door. Understanding the diversity of communication styles one may encounter each day will enable an employee to adapt a conversation to maximize the interaction. Good communication equals good medicine!

And lastly, work ethic. The ability to approach everyday with the enthusiasm and determination to be the best one can be. In veterinary medicine, just like human medicine, every owner and patient wants undivided attention and personalized care. An owner wants to feel their pet is the only one seen on a given day when in fact 20-30 animals may have been seen during the morning shift alone! To achieve the goal of individualized patient care every employee on staff must remember to put their best foot forward and remain engaged on every case from 8 a.m. until the doors close at 6 p.m. Very often staff report feeling they are on stage as they arrive to work and can’t relax until the curtain goes down on the way home. And most also report they continue working long after they have gone home. Work ethic indeed!

What are the various positions and training of the staff at a place like FVH you may ask? Well here is a synopsis of the roles present at our hospital:

Mark and Kris X-ray (Small)

  • Veterinarians (DVM)– Typical education consists of 4 years undergraduate work in biological sciences followed by 4 years of professional schooling at a sanctioned veterinary medical university. Some veterinarians become board certified in various specialties requiring additional years of schooling and residency. The only school with a veterinary medical program in WA State is WSU in Pullman. Oregon and California also have programs, but the majority of the inland western states do not have any professional training programs relying on WA, Oregon and CA for this service to their residents. Competition to gain acceptance to these programs is very high with many well-qualified applicants taking 2-3 times before gaining admission.


  • Veterinary Technician (LVT)- A licensed veterinary technician requires an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program in veterinary technology from an accredited university in order to sit for the national exam. Licensing is required by the WA department of health in order to provide the services of a technician. LVT’s are the equivalent of nurses in the human field responsible for providing direct DVM supervised care of patients. This may include phlebotomy, radiography, surgical assistance, anesthesia, dentistry, cytology, lab analysis and in hospital patient care. WA state has Associate degree programs available at Bellingham Technical College, Pierce College, and in the Tri-Cities. Bachelor degree programs are available at larger out of state universities like the University of Wisconsin.

Dr. Hall Exam Ear (Small)

  • Veterinary Assistants- Assistants are unlicensed support staff responsible for following the instruction of DVM and LVT staff. They often perform restraint and assistance both in the back of the hospital and in the rooms. Assistants have some role in scheduling, invoicing, and client education. Some assistants have completed a certificate program with BTC currently offering a program locally.

Jessica and Marni Receptionists (Small)

  • Receptionists- Receptionists have typically completed a veterinary assisting program and additional training in front end office skills or worked in a similar medical office setting. They are the first face or voice on every interaction with a new or returning client. Often the overall impression a receptionist gives an owner will set the tone for any visit. A love of people and pets is a must for this position and a gregarious attitude is highly beneficial.

Still think you have what it takes to work in a veterinary hospital? If so, you will have chosen an action packed and rewarding career! And who knows, maybe one day you will be lucky enough to work at FVH 🙂