The 7 Year Path to Becoming a Registered Veterinary Technologist – Why I Regret Nothing

Submitted by Mabel Ng, BSA, RVT

Being a recent graduate of the Veterinary Technology program, I thought going into the work force would be a daunting task – everyday a catchup game. And in a way it was, but it didn’t end up being as stressful as I originally thought. I was not as unequipped coming out of school as I had imagined and began to enjoy the numerous learning opportunities that came my way, taking advantage of every experience to better and further myself as an individual and as a veterinary professional.

My journey to become an RVT was not as straight-forward as the majority of my peers. Rather than entering the Veterinary Technology program directly from high school, my post-secondary adventure started at the University of Saskatchewan – a courageous decision made by a young and naïve 18-year-old version of me. At the time, all my efforts were spent trying to become a veterinarian through the Western College of Veterinary Medicine – my childhood dream. I spent four years studying my hardest to deserve a place at the WCVM, but alas I was unsuccessful with each application. Bachelor’s degree in hand, I was afraid for what my future would hold without being able to live my dream. I was disappointed, discouraged, and resentful of myself; I had spent the last 20+ years building up to this moment, and I had failed miserably. That is when I considered becoming a “vet tech” instead, and my next decisions changed my (young) life for the better in so many ways.

I ended up being late sending in my application to Saskatchewan Polytechnic and thus was placed on the waiting list. Still beaten from being unable to make my dream a reality, I decided to apply to a grooming salon where I stayed for approximately a year. Despite the low wages, the experiences that I gained from working in a dog grooming salon further solidified my love and appreciation for animals. My dog handling and restraint abilities improved tenfold and I became more comfortable interacting with clients too – advantages that I didn’t know I had until I entered the clinic setting as an RVT.

The 2-year Veterinary Technology program was very challenging – even more so than the 4 years I had spent obtaining my bachelor’s degree. I was fortunate that I already knew how I liked to study, but the sheer amount of information required as a functional veterinary technologist is immense. At 25 years old, I finally learned the true value of a veterinary technologist, both in and out of the clinic setting. By the end of the program, I was shocked by how little I knew about the profession when I first started. I finally understood why RVTs often outnumbered the DVMs in the workforce and why often times the face you see most of in a clinic setting is that of a veterinary technologist. While I was still learning to embrace my new career path, I no longer felt ashamed of failing to become a veterinarian; on the contrary, I felt empowered with all of my new skills and my knowledge and was excited to implement them in practise.

Present day, working at the Moose Jaw Animal Clinic, I’ve realized my true potential as an RVT. I feel valued and essential to the operations of a veterinary clinic. When I first began working, I was insecure with how old I was as a new RVT, but I soon realized that my experiences and previous education made me level-headed and “wise” despite being a graduate of 2019. I found myself brave enough to involve myself in the complicated cases, and brave enough to fully experience the triumph and the heartache that often accompanied these cases. I no longer see the RVT status as a job, but rather a way of life – a three-letter credential that represents advocacy for animal welfare and love for veterinary medicine. Having spent the past 7 years reaching this moment in my life has been my greatest blessing and triumph, and I didn’t even know it until now. #rvtproud

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