All vet techs need compassion for animals, but emergency animal medical technicians need to be especially careful when working with their patients. Veterinary paramedics, or animal EMTs, care for animals who are seriously or critically ill. Training and credentialing as a veterinary technician is the first requirement for an emergency care specialist. Once credentialed, you must meet the professional experience and testing requirements to become certified as an emergency animal medical technician.
Become a Vet Tech
Vet tech education programs receive their accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association. A veterinary technician must complete at least an associate degree in veterinary technology, but some colleges also offer a bachelor's degree. Vet tech programs typically include classes in radiology, nursing techniques and pre- and post-surgical care. You must also complete clinical rotations in animal hospitals and a practicum or internship. In most states, you must pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam to become credentialed or licensed as a vet tech. The American Association of Veterinary State Boards provides a link to each state's requirements on its website.
Accrue Related Work Experience
Accreditation as an emergency animal medical technician is available from the Academy of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Technicians and Nurses, or AVECCTN-VTS. (The organization formally changed its name to include nurses in January 2019). Accredited vet tech training and state credentialing are preliminary requirements. After that, you must complete at least 5,760 hours or three years of full-time related work experience before applying for credentialing. Meet this requirement by working as a vet tech in an animal hospital or clinic where the duties include providing urgent care and treating potentially life-threatening illnesses. Look for a qualifying position through your internship, ask your professors for leads, and use the career resources available on the website of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America.
Complete Additional Application Requirements
File a completed application for certification when you're ready for testing. The application and supporting documents are available on the AVECCT website in both digital and non-digital form. In addition to work experience, you must complete 25 hours of continuing education on veterinary critical and emergency care within the five years before applying for testing. You must also document your know-how by completing a skills form and keeping a case log during an entire year. The log should contain specifics on at least 50 emergency or critical cases, and you'll need to write detailed reports on four of them. When you file your completed application, include two recommendation letters from vet tech specialists.
Pass the AVECCTN Certifying Exam
The final step to credentialing as an emergency animal medical technician is passing the certifying exam. The registration deadline and exam dates are announced each year in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care and on the AVECCTN website. The exam is multiple-choice in format and may include oral questions and computer simulations. The wide array of topics it covers may include anesthesia, toxicology, gastrointestinal illnesses, oncology and neurology. Questions on clinical applications and procedures are an essential element of the test. Upon acceptance of your application and passage of the exam, you will receive your board certification.
As an veterinary paramedic, your additional training gives you a greater level of skill to bring to the job market and the workplace.