Laura PavlucVT 101Ms. BerryBecoming a Veterinary Technician SpecialistThere are multiple routes you can take to become a Veterinary Technician, but only one way to become a specialist in the field of your choice. There are many options for Veterinary Technicians to specialize in, each option requires extra work, hours and knowledge in that field. To gain the title of “Specialist” you must complete those requirements and submit them to the AVMA-RVSO. This is the AVMA Recognized Veterinary Specialist Organization, each AVMA-RVSO has specific rules and guidelines they set for specializing in a field. When you have completed the specific criteria for your specialization you are tested by the board, this could include written, oral, practical or a combination. Some of the options in becoming a specialist include Clinical Pathology Vet Tech., Clinical Practice Vet Tech., Emergency & Critical Care Vet Tech., Equine Vet Tech., Veterinary Behavior Tech., Veterinary Surgical Tech., Vet Tech Anesthetist, and Zoo Tech. A couple reasons to pursue becoming a VTS would be to further your career and be as knowledgeable as possible in Veterinary Medicine, another reason could be a private practice requires you to have that specialization.When picking your specialization you have to make sure that it continues your interest in veterinary medicine. Becoming a Zoo Tech. continues down the path of zoological, wildlife and aquatic medicine. Most, if not all, VT schools will offer a course on exotics; this will cover some of the animals you can find at the zoo, but not all. This is where your specialty begins moving more in-depth. To become a Zoo Tech you must complete 10,000 hours of VT work experience in the zoological medicine, have 40 hours of continuing education in zoological medicine, complete 40 cases that are written and documented, 5 in-depth case reports and 2 recommendations from zoo professionals. The AZVT, Association of Zoo Veterinary Technicians, has almost 400 members worldwide. That can seem like a very small number compared to other veterinary specializations, but becoming a Zoo Tech. requires a lot of time and extensive work. After graduating and being licensed, most Techs will start in small and large animal medicine while at the Zoo. All hours must be completed inside the zoo, no outside hours or prior work can be counted towards your specialty. There are many things Zoo Techs help out with around the zoo. Some of the duties can include assisting Veterinarians with exams and procedures. These exams can be on any animal at the zoo, which is why it is so important to have the extensive time and continued knowledge required. Zoo Techs are also routinely running diagnostics, blood tests, urinalysis, preparing surgical procedures, general health checks and much more. When choosing your specialty, it’s very good to look into the prospect of getting and maintaining that job. Because of the intensive and extensive amount of work that goes into becoming a Zoo Tech, the demand is not met for what most Zoos are seeking. The AZVT thinks that over the next few years the Zoo Tech community will grow, but not to what is needed. That makes finding a job look very good for future candidates looking into Zoo Tech.If you are willing to commit to 5 years minimum to become a specialist in zoological medicine, there will be 10000 hours of documented time. This time is spent gaining knowledge of your zoo and the animals within it. There are different ways to handle very large animals and very small animals. Because of working with exotics in such a close way, you must make sure to take extensive safety precautions. Not only for you and your coworkers but for the animal as well. It is very easy for animals that have little to no regular human contact to get overwhelmed and injure themselves or others around them. This is one of the very first things you will learn on the road to becoming a Zoo Tech. Safety and handling procedures must be followed to perfection and mistakes cannot be made. Running diagnostics will also be apart of your daily zoo life. The animals at the zoo will need consistent health checks to ensure their simulated habitat is taking care of all of their health and wellness. It is not enough for the animal to be alive, the animal must be thriving in its zoo habitat. Health and wellness checks can include taking temperatures, heart rates, breathing rate, skin scrapings, blood work and routine dental work. It will be important to remember those 40 case studies and 4 in-depth case studies. Case studies can start from finding less than healthy results in your health checks, general studies of an animal or species, studying idiopathic behavior or diseases, and much more. Case studies will be tied to the animals that you are directly working with. Case studies are documented reports of the development of a particular person, group or situation over time. That makes the zoo a perfect place for vast and interesting in-depth studies. These studies must be surgical or medical related, to provide insight of the work you are doing in the zoo. They must be within the last 3 years of working in the zoo, before applying for your test. The 5 in-depth studies must be as detailed as possible. These case studies must be very specific and present themselves in a way where there are little to no questions to be asked at the end. It is important to make sure you include every necessary detail in the case studies and nothing is left out. Each case will be reviewed by the board before administering your test to ensure they are complete and include all proper reports, documents, and details.Continuing education can be done in many ways. The AZVMT publishes quarterly newsletters and has yearly conferences. Considering, most people take a minimum of 5 years to complete the requirements for becoming a Zoo Tech, the 40 hours should not be hard to complete your continuing education. Finally, when you have completed all the difficult requirements to become a Zoo Tech, you are now eligible to take the test. The AZVMT, Academy of Zoological Veterinary Medicine, administers the test for becoming a Zoo Tech yearly. It is important to keep up to date and know when the test is. There are no retests, you must simply wait another year and try again. Make sure when you fill out your application to apply for the test, you fill it out for you. The forms are a representation of who you are as a Tech and what you have learned, not just a stack of papers that have to be filled out. Since the test is only administered once a year, it is very important to start early. You cannot wait until a month before and throw your case studies together and fill out all the forms. Have everything prepared and ready to be given to the board.The prospect of becoming a Zoo Tech can seem overwhelming and hard, but those who decide to go through with it and complete it will be rewarded. During your eligible testing year, you can seek out an AZVMT accredited mentor, who will guide you through your preparation process to ease your stress. Zoo tech is a very close community that shares an incredible passion for the animals and people it works with, and Veterinarians and Technicians truly give a voice to these exotic animals.