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A qualitative study of the roles, motivations, and challenges of academic veterinary technicians

Melissa LoyCollege of Veterinary Medicine, Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN

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Micha C. SimonsCollege of Veterinary Medicine, Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN

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Malathi RaghavanDepartment of Veterinary Administration, College of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

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Heather BhatkaSchool of Allied Health Sciences, Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN

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Bonnie PriceCollege of Veterinary Medicine, Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN

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Kelly FoltzBluePearl Specialty and Pet Hospital, Tampa, FL

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Katherine FogelbergCollege of Veterinary Medicine, Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

A qualitative study based on one-on-one interviews was conducted to better understand the role of the academic veterinary technician (AVT) and identify the motivations and challenges that AVTs face during their academic careers.

SAMPLE

34 AVTs from 12 accredited US colleges of veterinary medicine.

PROCEDURES

Virtual, semi-structured interviews were conducted between July and December 2020. Transcripts were analyzed using discourse analysis within the context of social identity theory.

RESULTS

Five themes and seven accompanying sub-themes emerged: one title but many roles and responsibilities (professional/work; other obligations); workplace culture (belonging/inclusivity, administrative/policies); unique challenges of being in the ivory tower (impostor syndrome, educator role, technical skills for academia); entry into the profession and career progression; and motivation.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

AVTs have great passion for and dedication to their profession. Overwhelmingly, they want their voices to be heard and their skillsets to be both utilized and respected. Recognition of and consideration for the themes uncovered in this study may help to better support and retain technicians in their academic career paths.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

A qualitative study based on one-on-one interviews was conducted to better understand the role of the academic veterinary technician (AVT) and identify the motivations and challenges that AVTs face during their academic careers.

SAMPLE

34 AVTs from 12 accredited US colleges of veterinary medicine.

PROCEDURES

Virtual, semi-structured interviews were conducted between July and December 2020. Transcripts were analyzed using discourse analysis within the context of social identity theory.

RESULTS

Five themes and seven accompanying sub-themes emerged: one title but many roles and responsibilities (professional/work; other obligations); workplace culture (belonging/inclusivity, administrative/policies); unique challenges of being in the ivory tower (impostor syndrome, educator role, technical skills for academia); entry into the profession and career progression; and motivation.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

AVTs have great passion for and dedication to their profession. Overwhelmingly, they want their voices to be heard and their skillsets to be both utilized and respected. Recognition of and consideration for the themes uncovered in this study may help to better support and retain technicians in their academic career paths.

Contributor Notes

Corresponding author: Dr. Fogelberg (ksfogelberg@vt.edu)