Essential Functions: Veterinary Technician and Veterinary Assistant Programs

During the course of the Veterinary Technician program and Veterinary Assistant program, students must demonstrate the ability to perform the functions listed below safely, reliably and efficiently within the scope of practice as defined by the Board of Veterinary Medicine. Every student will be held to the same standards with or without reasonable accommodations.

Disability Act Statement: Madison College complies with all provisions of the American with Disabilities Act and makes reasonable accommodations upon requests for qualified individuals. If you believe you may need accommodations to assist you in performing the functions that follow, please contact the Disability Resources Services (DRS) office at (608) 246-6716 or (800) 322-6282, ext. 6716 (deaf students via Relay 711) or email(link sends e-mail) prior to the semester in which you begin your veterinary technician program.

Gross Motor Skills:

  • Move within confined spaces
  • Maintain balance in multiple positions
  • Reach above shoulders (e.g., IV poles)
  • Reach below waist (e.g., plug electrical cord into wall outlet)
  • Reach out front

Fine Motor Skills:

  • Pick up objects with hands
  • Grasp small objects with hands (e.g., IV tubing, pencil)
  • Write with pen or pencil
  • Key/type (e.g., use a computer)
  • Pinch/pick or otherwise work with fingers (e.g., manipulate a syringe)
  • Twist (e.g., turn objects/knobs using hands)
  • Squeeze with finger (e.g., eye dropper)
  • Dexterity to manipulate small equipment, adjust resistance on equipment, and manage syringes, catheters and surgical instruments

Physical Endurance:

  • Stand (e.g., at patient side during surgical, diagnostic or therapeutic procedures)
  • Sustain repetitive movements (e.g., CPR)
  • Maintain physical tolerance (e.g., work on your feet a minimum of eight hours)

Physical Strength:

  • Push and pull 50 pounds (e.g., position patients, move equipment)
  • Support 50 pounds of weight (e.g., walk patient with towel support)
  • Lift 50 pounds (e.g., bend to lift a dog up to a table)
  • Carry equipment/supplies
  • Use upper body strength (e.g., perform CPR, physically restrain a patient)
  • Squeeze with hands (e.g., operate fire extinguisher)
  • Be capable of handling, positioning, and restraining live animals of small and large species


  • Twist
  • Bend
  • Stoop/squat
  • Move quickly
  • Climb stairs
  • Walk
  • Must be able to move his/her entire body a distance of no less than three meters within two seconds of a signal to do so (to move from danger while handling in confined spaces)


  • Hear normal speaking-level sounds (e.g., person-to-person report)
  • Hear faint voices
  • Hear faint body sounds (e.g., blood pressure sounds, heart and lung sounds, assess placement of stomach and endotracheal tubes)
  • Hear in situations when not able to see lips (e.g., when masks are used)
  • Hear auditory alarms (e.g., monitors, fire alarms, warning sounds from animals and humans of impending danger or injury)


  • See objects up to 20 inches away (e.g., information on computer screen, skin conditions)
  • See objects up to 30 feet away (e.g., horse in an aisle)
  • Use depth perception
  • Use peripheral vision
  • Distinguish color and color intensity, including slight color variations (e.g., clinical pathology slides under a microscope)


  • Feel vibrations (e.g., palpate pulses)
  • Detect temperature (e.g., skin, solutions)
  • Feel differences in surface characteristics (e.g., skin turgor, rashes)
  • Feel differences in sizes, shapes (e.g., palpate vein, identify body landmarks)
  • Detect environmental temperature
  • Physical assessment and performance of above tactile skills must be done in a timely manner


  • Detect odors (e.g., foul smelling discharge, anesthetic gas leak)


  • Tolerance to allergens such as latex and animal dander
  • Tolerance to strong soaps
  • Tolerance to strong odors (e.g., chemical disinfectants)
  • Tolerance to handling bodily fluids and solids (e.g., urine and feces)
  • Ability for sustained contact with multiple species (both large and small animals)
  • Not allergic to domestic animals to the extent that would prohibit working in a facility that has them


  • Read and understand written documents (e.g., monitoring sheet, directions)
  • Read digital displays


  • Comprehend graphic trends
  • Calibrate equipment
  • Convert numbers to and from metric system (e.g., dosages)
  • Tell time
  • Measure time (e.g., count heart beat in 15 sec and multiply by 4)
  • Count rates (e.g., drips/minute, pulse rate)
  • Read measurement marks
  • Add, subtract, multiply and/or divide whole numbers
  • Compute fractions and decimals (e.g., medication dosages)
  • Document numbers in records

Emotional Stability:

  • Must be able to complete required tasks/functions under stressful conditions, including emergencies
  • Must be willing to assist with and perform a wide variety of routine medical, surgical and diagnostic procedures, including humane euthanasia
  • Establish therapeutic boundaries
  • Provide client with emotional support
  • Adapt to changing environment/stress
  • Deal with the unexpected (e.g., client condition, crisis)
  • Focus attention on task
  • Cope with own emotions
  • Perform multiple responsibilities concurrently
  • Cope with strong emotions in others (e.g., grief)

Analytical Thinking:

  • Transfer knowledge from one situation to another
  • Process information from multiple sources
  • Analyze and interpret abstract and concrete data
  • Evaluate outcomes
  • Problem solve
  • Prioritize tasks
  • Use long-term memory
  • Use short-term memory

·Critical Thinking:

  • Identify cause-effect relationships
  • Plan/control activities for others
  • Synthesize knowledge and skills
  • Sequence information
  • Make decisions independently
  • Adapt decision based on new information
  • Show progress towards minimal supervision as advance through program

Interpersonal Skills:

  • Establish rapport with individuals, families and groups
  • Respect/value cultural differences
  • Negotiate interpersonal conflict
  • Demonstrate socially appropriate behavior
  • Maintain cleanliness and personal grooming consistent with close human and animal contact
  • Interact appropriately with clients and all members of the veterinary healthcare team

Communication Skills:

  • Teach (e.g. client/family about veterinary health care)
  • Direct/manage/delegate activities of others
  • Speak English
  • Write English
  • Read English
  • Comprehend and carry out complex written and oral directions given in English
  • Collaborate with others (e.g., veterinary team members)
  • Manage information

Time Constraints:

  • Must be able to function in a structured environment within significant time constraints