Venipuncture. Radiographs. Syringe feeding. Client education. All of the routine but essential procedures that we take for granted every day in our veterinary practices. These are typically the duties of veterinary technicians, the people without whom we veterinarians could not properly perform our jobs. Conscientious, motivated technicians are often hard to come by, and conscientious, motivated technicians who love avian and exotic pet medicine are even more difficult to find. Veterinarians often underestimate or even forget the importance of the technicians we depend so heavily on every day. It often takes years for a veterinarian and a technician to establish the right working rhythm in the hospital; I know that after 7 years of working with the same technician, I am finally able to anticipate her next step and she mine. But this relationship has only been achieved after investing endless hours educating and training her in the ever-evolving world of avian and exotic pet medicine, and my responsibility to train my technician is never complete. If I want her to stay abreast of the latest technology and techniques in exotic animal medicine, I must provide her with the tools to do so.
In this vein, I have asked 4 veterinarians and 1 veterinary technician, all of whom work with birds and exotic pets, to comment on the role of the exotic animal technician in veterinary practice. The participants are M. Scott Echols, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian Practice), The Medical Center for Birds, Oakley, CA, USA; Peter Fisher, DVM, Pet Care Veterinary Hospital, Virginia Beach, VA, USA; Margaret Fordham, DVM, Mathew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital, The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA; Lorelei Tibbetts, LVT, The Center for Avian and Exotic Pet Care, New York, NY, USA; and Suzanne Topor, DVM, Livingston Animal and Avian Hospital, Lutz, FL, USA. In hearing about how they educate the avian and exotic animal technicians with whom they work, I hope that we will all reevaluate the roles that these technicians play in our practices and how short-term investments in these technicians can actually lead to long-term benefits to our practices.