Featured Voice – Sarah Summers

I am a Registered Veterinary Technician. A lot of people don’t exactly know what that means and honestly, nationally it is confusing and we are trying to become more standardized and better utilized.

I graduated from specialized college to learn and understand the needs of varying species and body systems, as well as skills, techniques and medical procedures. I learned about the cause, effect, and intervention. I learned about zoonosis and public safety. I learned how to work closely alongside my doctors to help understand the pieces of a puzzle when the pieces aren’t all there. I passed State and National examinations to receive a license from the Veterinary Board. I perform and record regular continuing education to continue learning and maintain my license.

On a daily basis, I can do a variety of things. I collect vital signs on animals, multiple species with different norms. I listen between their purrs, pants, sniffs and feel for pulse deficits. I perform blood draws from moving targets covered in fur in a way to cause minimal stress and trauma to the patient, who doesn’t know why we are holding them and poking them. I review their results to think of how their changes will affect them and what I should do to adjust to their specific needs.

I administer medications to animals who really would rather not have their medication because of course, they do not feel very well. I discuss medication dosing, frequency and side effects with pet parents and help them create a feasible plan. I comfort pets, scratch their ears, whisper and sweet talk to them to reassure them. Even if they don’t seem to respond, compassion helps to heal.

I administer and monitor anesthesia in two primary species with many differences between them, but know I am able to work with varying other species should I choose to. I use a multimodal anesthetic approach and consider pain management important as my patients can’t just tell me when they get sore.

I am trained to watch for many different patterns and changes in ventilation, respiration, waveforms, tracings, and measurements to ensure the procedure is uneventful as a possible procedure; I am also trained to act quickly and precisely in crisis situations. I prepare animals for various procedures and surgery; eye enucleations, aural hematoma repairs, mass removals from any area you may or may not think of, fracture repair orthopedic amputation, ovariohysterectomy and castrations, cystotomies, among other things. I provide post-operative care to patients and direct owners on bandage and splint care, collection drain care, physical therapy, and appropriate confinement. I take diagnostic radiographs to look deeper into what you and your pet may or may not be saying, making specific adjustments for your pet and always consider my and my teams long term radiation exposure I talk and listen to pet parents all day long to aid them in any way I can; whether that be because your puppy is teething or your life long friend is no longer thriving, discussing preventions so your pet can spend as long of a life with you as possible, or discussing the risks and benefits of surgery and anesthesia. I help walk pet patents through difficult conversations and shed a tear beside them during the last moments with their companion. I work on documents all day logging and recording every single thing (or it didn’t happen). I run in circles, barely sit down, eat on the go, come in early, stay late, monitor on camera, and continue my work at home. I help maintain inventory and supplies, as well as maintain, run and troubleshoot varying medical devices and machines from blood and urine analyzers to surgical monitoring equipment to endoscopy, ultrasound and radiology units. I dispense medications that the doctors prescribe and consider the dosing regime, side effects, and monitoring and interactions. I double, triple, and quadruple check calculations. I help pet parents maintain the treatment plan the doctor recommended for long term care for your pet with chronic renal disease, pancreatitis, debilitating osteoarthritis, urinary disease, pancreatitis, hepatic lipidosis, lymphoma, immune diseases, and countless other things…I learn daily. I love daily. All of this and so much more is often done in the same week. And honestly, this is a fairly limited view of my knowledge and utilization. I took an oath to dedicate myself to providing excellent care to animals, alleviating animal suffering and promoting public safety and follow a code of ethics.

I want the conversation to start. It will be a long road for the Veterinary Nursing Initiative but it starts with just sharing what we do and helping people understand what a technician is. Just as a doctor can be for human or veterinary medicine, psychology, physics or any Ph.D., a nurse can be used in other settings. People understand that a ‘Nurse’ is providing compassionate care and that’s exactly what we do. A Veterinary Nurse is a great description. And one day soon I hope Indiana recognizes us as Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVN) and across the country we would share the same education requirements, exams, and scopes of practice.


If you’re not already a member of your state organization, you should be! Uniting us all together to achieve a common goal!

About the Author
Sarah Summers, RVT, FFCP

I have been in small animal practice at Petsburgh Pet Care in Lafayette, Indiana since 2009. I graduated in 2014 with an Associates Degree in Veterinary Technology. I am now a Registered Veterinary Technician and a Fear Free Certified Professional. It’s never a boring job, as our job description is endless!

Caring for animals and helping owners understand their pets health and is extremely rewarding, knowing that you can impact their lives. My interests include nursing care, geriatric and debilitated pets, anesthesia and analgesics, feline medicine amongst countless other things. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family which includes my husband, two dogs and a plethora of indoor cats! We can’t imagine life without them all.

My combined love of learning, animals and medicine brought me here and I’m still loving every step of this journey. I look forward to the day when each state has standard education and licensing requirements for our field, to better unite us, and that we are valued and compensated for our skills and knowledge.