Stories

New Vol State Vet Tech Program Already in Demand

Submitted on March 02, 2011 at 1:52 PM

Volunteer State Community College has received approval to launch a new Veterinary Technology program at the college this coming fall semester, and local vets say it couldn't come soon enough. The two-year program is the next step, after students complete the currently popular Animal Care Technology certificate. Students are already expressing strong interest.

"The Associate of Applied Science degree is in demand because it makes the student eligible to take the national board exam, and that's how they can become licensed to practice," said Vol State assistant professor and licensed veterinarian, Dr. Doug Shaw.

Passing the exam will make the students Licensed Veterinary Technicians and that's a job field that is in high demand.

"There's a huge shortage of veterinary technicians," said Dr. Bryan Bondurant of the Critter Clinic in Gallatin. "Veterinary technicians are like a specialized nurse in the human field. They're extremely valuable."

"Our local veterinarians have begged for this," said Vol State Dean of Math and Science Nancy Morris.

The new Vol State program will be one of just a handful in Tennessee and the only program in the immediate area. It will have a structure to help students complete each step at a time. The first step is the Animal Care Technology certificate, which can be completed in one year. The next step is the Vet Tech AAS degree program. The Animal Care credits will apply toward the Vet Tech degree. However, students can also choose to go from the Animal Care certificate program into a General Business Administration degree program, utilizing the Animal Care classes as electives.

"To have someone with that animal care knowledge and the business skills makes the person of great value in the front office of a veterinary practice," said Morris.

The Vet Tech path itself provides students with many options in specialization later in their career, ranging from radiology and ultrasound to dentistry and anesthesiology. That will require additional education, but the Vet Tech AAS degree will provide the foundation.

"I'd like to work in a lab setting," said Alexandria Rice of Hendersonville. I just like being able to run tests and look at things under a microscope." The Vol State student is in the Animal Care program and has already been hired by Critter Clinic.

The profession has many challenges and isn't for everyone.

"They have to be an animal lover, but this isn't just about animal petting, puppies and kittens," said Dr. Shaw. "It's a tough job. There's death. There's saving lives. There's trauma."

"We'll have a Parvo puppy that is completely pitiful. We'll have him for three or four weeks, and to see them finally get to go home feels great," said student Cassie Woodward of Gallatin.

The 70-hour Vet Tech program will be longer than most associate degrees, primarily because of the required veterinary clinical work. Vol State is working on American Veterinarian Medical Association accreditation, a process that will take several years.

The U.S. Department of Labor says job prospects for veterinary technicians and technologists are excellent, with a 36 percent growth rate projected for the next seven years.

"The job security is the first thing that comes to mind," Rice said. "But it's also a job I like doing. I wake up every morning and think- I'm going to get to do something different today. There's lots of learning."

The Vet Tech program is expected to be extremely competitive, but the number of options available at Vol State will provide several paths to the workforce for students.

For more information visit www.volstate.edu/Veterinary or call 615-230-3261.

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Pictured: Dr. Bryan Bondurant gives an examination with the assistance of Vol State student Cassie Woodward.

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