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Too Old To Tech

Maybe it’s my age, perhaps as I get older people I meet feel comfortable telling me their fears of getting older, but it seems to me that I am hearing a lot of people talk about how their bodies will not be able to do this work forever. Wrestling Rottweilers, tangling with tabbies, getting back up from the floor when your patient needed you down on the floor…there’s a lot of physical labor involved in the medical positions of the veterinary team.

So what do we do, particularly as technicians, when our bodies are just too old to do this work? A colleague of mine has blown both her knees, and I know others who have suffered back injuries and repetitive motion strains. It’s a very real problem, and it leaves us with a very pertinent question.

Many of those I talk to mention they will need to find a desk job or perhaps another profession altogether as they age. Plenty of them mention moving into management, where the big challenges are mental rather than physical. But there are also plenty of them who do not have any desire to manage. Where do they go?

In my opinion, this is where we can get creative and entertain some of the options in the profession that we might not have considered before. There are positions in industry as advisors, in sales and in marketing. Positions that come to mind include an AAHA accreditation specialist, a pet insurance claims person, a technical services person for a pharmaceutical company, and more.

These may not be places you thought of working when you entered this profession, but after all your years in practice, in the trenches, it is the perfect time to put all that knowledge and experience to good use sharing your brain rather than your brawn.

One way to discover new opportunities is to talk to others in your profession that have gone out of the box of private practice and ask about what they do. At conferences, on discussion boards, during interaction with your practice’s industry partners, find out what opportunities are out there for technicians and what the jobs are like.

This also helps you form connections, and time and time again I have learned that it’s not just what you know, but also who you know in this profession.

A connection today could be a job lead tomorrow, or an employment reference, and open a door that otherwise would have been closed or gone just plain unnoticed.

There is a book by Carin Smith, DVM, and Rebecca Rose, CVT, titled “Career Choices for Veterinary Technicians” (AAHA Press, 2009). Take some time to peruse that book, and see what jumps out at you or stimulates your interest. Then go learn more, talk to people doing that job, and find out what opportunities are out there.

Just because your body is getting older and less limber, doesn’t mean you don’t have a wealth of information to share with the profession…and we still need you!


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