Essential Functions for Veterinary Technology

 The field of veterinary technology is intellectually and physically challenging.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ensure that all qualified applicants have the ability to pursue program admission. However, all students must meet the essential skills and technical standards to perform functions required of the Texas A&M University-Kingsville Veterinary Technology program and profession. Every student will be held to the same standards with or without reasonable accommodations. The American Association of Veterinary Technician Educators Task Force on Students with Disabilities recommends the following standards:

General Physical Requirements

Students must:

  • possess the physical ability to
    • Tolerate walking and standing for at least ten minutes at a time, multiple times per hour.
    • Lift and/or carry up to 50 pounds from floor to waist level or higher at least several times per day.
    • Lift objects weighing up to 50 pounds to a height of one meter or higher and carry the object or animal for a distance of two meters without assistance.
    • Use hands and arms to handle, install, position and move materials, equipment, and supplies without assistance.
    • Handle, position, and restrain live animals of small and large animal species.
  • Be able to have sustained contact with multiple species of animals and be amenable to learning to safely handle, restrain, and work with these animals.  An individual should not be allergic to any species of animals to the extent that would prohibit working in a facility that has them. 

Cognitive Ability

Students must:

  • Be able to function in a structured environment within significant time constraints, be capable of making rapid decisions in urgent situations and be able to meet deadlines.
  • Possess a willingness to assist with and perform a wide variety of routine medical, surgical, and diagnostic procedures common to the veterinary setting, including humane euthanasia and handling of sick, injured, fractious, or aggressive animals.
  • Be able to complete required tasks & functions under stressful and/or unpredictable conditions, including emergency situations.
  • Be able to access information from books, reference manuals, computers, and paper and electronic medical documents to perform duties and safely use equipment without assistance.
  • Be able to prioritize, organize, and utilize time-management skills to efficiently perform tasks.
  • Evaluate, synthesize, and communicate diagnostic information to the attending veterinarian and/or staff.
  • Be able to progress toward minimal supervision as they advance through the program.

Communication Skills

Students must:

  • Read, write, speak and report accurately and effectively in English.
  • Comprehend and carry out complex written and oral instructions given in English.
  • Be able, when communicating with other individuals by speech, either in person or by telephone, to make legible and coherent written notes in English within the margins and spaces provided on the appropriate forms.

Professionalism and Interpersonal Skills

Students must:

  • Demonstrate professional and socially appropriate behavior.
  • Maintain cleanliness and personal grooming habits that are conducive to close contact with people and animals.
  • Be able to interact appropriately with clients and all members of the veterinary healthcare team.
  • Have the ability to exercise good judgment and make appropriate professional and procedural judgment decisions under stressful and/or emergency conditions, emergent demands, and a distracting environment.

Manual Dexterity and Mobility

Students must:

  • Be able to move rapidly from danger while handling animals in confined spaces.
  • Possess fine motor movements in order to perform the essential functions of the profession.  This includes, but is not limited to, the dexterity required to manipulate small equipment, adjust resistance on equipment, hold hooves while cleaning and evaluating and to manage syringes, catheters, and common surgical instruments.
  • Possess tactile abilities necessary for physical assessment and to perform nursing duties in a timely manner. This includes performing palpation during physical exams, administering oral, intramuscular, subcutaneous, and intravenous medication, insert and remove tubes, collect organic samples from living animals, and perform wound care.
  • Be able to hold surgical instruments in one hand and perform fine movements with such instruments. This includes, but is not limited to, the ability to hold hemostats or other instruments while assisting in surgery, inducing and monitoring general anesthesia and placing intravenous and urinary catheters without assistance.
  • Be able to hold, manipulate, or tie materials ranging from a cloth patch to a very fine suture. This includes, but is not limited to, the ability to hold and manipulate a surgical sponge, tie a 00 silk suture, perform endotracheal intubation, and apply bandages without assistance.

Auditory, Olfactory, and Visual Skills

Veterinary technologists must have functional use of senses to be able to safely and correctly assess patients and interpret and record data. 

Students must:

  • Possess visual ability, with or without correction, which allows the determination of minute areas of detail, very small variations in color and adequate depth perception to discern size, shape and texture, including differentiation of details when viewed through a microscope.  This includes, but is not limited to, the ability to characterize and interpret the color, odor, clarity, and viscosity of body structures and fluids, and to observe variations in skin and mucous membrane color, integrity, pulsations, tissue swelling, etc.
  • Possess visual ability to allow for observation and assessment during nursing care, both from a distance and in close proximity, in order to recognize physical status and behaviors that indicate said status.   
  • Possess auditory ability necessary to monitor and assess health status, including auscultation of the heart and lungs, and hear equipment alarms and warning sounds from animals, humans, and/or equipment.
  • Recognize and respond appropriately to distress sounds from animal and alarms on animal-monitoring equipment directly and through intercommunication systems.
  • Detect and respond appropriately to odors in order to maintain environmental safety and patient needs.
  • Be able to use a compound microscope to identify cells and organisms and be able to differentiate colors of stained objects.  
  • Be able to observe movement at a distance ranging from 30-45 centimeters to 15-20 meters at a discrimination level that permits detection of subtle differences in movement of the limbs in animals. This includes, but is not limited to, the ability to detect and describe subtle changes in coat color, detect abnormal posture in a small animal, monitor respiratory rate during anesthesia, and read anesthesia monitoring equipment.
  • Be able to discriminate shades of black and white patterns in which the band is not more than 0.5 mm in width. This includes the ability to characterize bacterial hemolysis on a blood agar plate, density patterns on a radiograph, and visualize electrocardiogram tracings.
  • Possess adequate depth perception to allow detection of a 0.5 cm elevation which is no more than 1 cm in diameter on a slightly curved structure that has a slightly irregular surface.   This includes, but is not limited to, detection of tissue swelling on the hip on a smooth-haired dog to determine the presence of a reaction to skin testing for allergies.
  • Be able to perceive the natural or amplified human voice to permit effective oral communication in a surgery room while all occupants are wearing surgical masks.
  • Be able to perceive the origin of sound as needed to detect movement of large animals in a pen or corral or monitoring multiple patients in an Intensive Care Unit.

Reasonable Disability Accommodations

Request for reasonable accommodations must be initiated by the student. Reasonable accommodations may be provided for students with documented disabilities upon submission of appropriate documentation.  Documentation must include the names, titles, professional credentials, license number, addresses, and phone numbers of the medical professionals that evaluated the student, as well as the date of the evaluation.  The evaluation report must include a summary of the assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis and a narrative summary of evaluation results.  The evaluation must list specific accommodations requested and the rationale for those accommodations. Documentation for eligibility must be current, preferably within the last three years. The age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the current status of the student and the student's specific request for accommodations. Students may be required to re-submit this documentation each semester to allow for review of continuing eligibility for accommodations.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a disability as a substantial limitation of a major life function.  A temporary medical condition does not qualify as a disability and is not covered under the ADA of 1990 or under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act because the extent, duration, and impact of the condition are not permanent. Accommodations may not provide an unfair advantage to the students, fundamentally alter the nature and substance of the curriculum, present an undue hardship for the institution, pose a direct threat to the safety of patients, or compromise the academic integrity of the program.  Students may be required to cover the cost of such accommodations and should be aware that a potential employer may not be amenable to use of accommodations that result in undue hardship to the employer. Students receiving accommodations must be aware that these may not be available from a prospective employer. Veterinary practices with small numbers of employees may be exempt from the requirements of the ADA.

Examples of reasonable accommodations that may be available to students that qualify under the ADA for performance of required skills could include the following:

  • Amplified stethoscope
  • Portable speech amplifier
  • Hearing aids
  • Clear surgical masks
  • Magnifying headsets
  • Non-allergenic gloves
  • Magnifying microscope monitor

This page was last updated on: June 21, 2016