For immediate release
Johannesburg, 19 April 2022
Beyond lab work: saluting veterinary technologists for the vital role they play in ensuring animal health
Even though only a small cohort of students can train as veterinarians in South Africa every year, the world of the veterinary and para-veterinary professions is so rich and broad that there are several other career paths that young people interested in animal health can pursue – one of which is becoming a veterinary technologist.
The South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) is shining a spotlight on this para-veterinary profession on South Africa’s dedicated Veterinary Technologist Day, 23 April 2022.
According to the South African Association of Veterinary Technologists (SAAVT), veterinary technologists are trained to perform veterinary laboratory work in diagnostic laboratories, research facilities and vaccine production facilities. They work in disciplines such as virology, bacteriology, serology, biochemistry (chemical pathology), histopathology, parasitology and molecular biology.
They apply sophisticated technology and laboratory techniques to analyse samples of animal origin to assist with the diagnosis, prevention, control, treatment and rehabilitation of illness and disease in animals.
These para-veterinary professionals are a key link in the veterinary diagnosis and research chain, and make an important contribution to the health and well-being of animals.
It is a responsibility that vet techs, as they are known, do not take lightly. As Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) veterinary technology student Nyiko Nukeri says, after a semester of intensive training in the institution’s veterinary skills laboratory, “It taught me just how important it is to work accurately, since an animal’s life might be in your hands.”
The good news for pet and animal lovers who would dearly love to work in the animal healthcare industry is that TUT offers a new four-year degree – the Bachelor of Health Science (BHSc) in Veterinary Technology – that recently replaced its National Diploma in Veterinary Technology. Graduates can also go on to complete a master’s degree (MHSc in Veterinary Technology) and a doctorate (PhD in Science).
To be considered for the programme, candidates need a National Senior Certificate with a bachelor’s degree endorsement and an admission point score of at least 24 (excluding Life Orientation). Applicants must have achieved at least 50% for English (home language or first additional language), Mathematics or Technical Mathematics, Physical Science or Technical Science, and Life Sciences or Agricultural Science.
Once they have graduated, veterinary technologists, like other animal health professionals, must register with the SAVC in order to practise in South Africa. This is so that the SAVC can exercise its oversight function and ensure the highest standards of professional excellence are upheld.
Like other veterinary and para-veterinary professionals, vet techs are expected to undertake continuing professional development, or CPD, which is the ongoing process of developing, maintaining and documenting your professional skills. These skills may be gained formally, through courses or training, or informally – on the job or by coaching others. Ongoing CPD enrichment is necessary so that veterinary technologists keep abreast of trends in their profession, ensuring their knowledge stays relevant and up to date.
Constantly refreshing one’s skill set is crucial, since the vet tech profession has evolved over the years, particularly on the technology side. The manual testing procedures of old are now automated, for example, using instruments that have their own sophisticated onboard computer and software systems.
Although testing has become easier, a high level of responsibility and expert knowledge is still involved, as vet techs are required to operate multimillion-rand instruments to produce accurate results for veterinarians to use in the diagnostic process.
Over the years, the SAAVT, the professional body for veterinary technologists in the country, has done much work to advance and promote excellence in the profession. The SAAVT is chaired by Riette Theron and is represented on the SAVC by Johann Müller, who has helped bring the true value of veterinary technologists more sharply into focus in recent years.
He recently became only the second para-veterinarian to be elected to the SAVC’s executive committee, demonstrating the increased presence and influence of the para-veterinary professions on this statutory body that is the custodian of all the professions.
The SAVC is here to assist veterinary technologists so that they can work and flourish in the profession without any hindrances. Please visit www.savc.org.za for more information.
Issued by Flow Communications on behalf of the SAVC. For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Khaya Thwala on firstname.lastname@example.org or 078 349 0668.
About the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC)
The South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) is a veterinary statutory body in South Africa, with powers and functions for the registration of persons practising the veterinary and para-veterinary professions. The SAVC has legal authority over the practising of veterinary and para-veterinary professions, and for matters connected therewith.
The South African Veterinary Board, which is the predecessor of the SAVC, was established in 1933 in terms of the Veterinary Act (No. 16 of 1933). The SAVC then later became an independent, self-funding statutory body in 1982 under the Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Professions Act (No. 19 of 1982). The current SAVC, therefore, has a proud and rich history of playing a role in the regulation of the veterinary profession in South Africa.
It is compulsory in South Africa for all practising veterinary and para-veterinary professionals to be registered with the SAVC, as stated in the Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Professions Act. The SAVC is therefore the custodian of the veterinary and para-veterinary professions in South Africa, and enables the veterinary team to practise ethically by setting and monitoring veterinary standards, to create a safe environment for animals and people.