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Skilled Veterinary Technicians are in High Demand

August 24, 2020
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Carrington College in Citrus Heights is rising to meet the education and training needs for those who want a career in Veterinary Technology. It is a career match for those who have a genuine affection for animals and who would enjoy being an integral part of their routine and emergency care.

Veterinary Technicians work in private clinics, laboratories, and animal hospitals where they perform tests and treatments on a variety of animals – primarily dogs and cats – and provide treatments for medical issues and conditions that have been diagnosed and prescribed by a veterinarian. Other responsibilities include recording animals’ medical histories, administering anesthesia, taking and developing x-rays, along with providing animal dental care, physical therapy, and nutrition instruction.

“Sometimes we are a grief counselor (for pet owners) or a chew toy,” says Alison Moralez, RVT, Carrington College Veterinary Technology program faculty. “I always had a deep interest in animals and animal care and wanted to be that person those innocent animals looked to who could remove their pain and suffering. I got to help during the (California) wildfires, trying to save the displaced animals and treating their burns and taking their pain away.”

Many who have a natural love of animals gravitate toward this career field and are well rewarded for their desire to serve the needs of those pets we welcome into our homes, as well as the many farm animals of an agricultural state.

California has the second highest state employment of Veterinary Technologists and Technicians and the annual mean wage in California is $43,470, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, as of May 2019. (See: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292056.htm#st).

Veterinary Technology students come from all walks of life. “Many (VT) students are recent high school graduates, although some students have had a bit of college,” says Gina Gillombardo, RVT faculty member for the Citrus Heights program. “Others have had long breaks in their education to start families and are now returning to their education. Their stories are unique, but the thread that connects them is their love of animals.”

The accelerated Veterinary Technology Associate of Science program which can be completed in as few as 21 months, is designed to give graduates the skill, knowledge, experience, and ‘patient’ empathy needed to excel in this work environment. Classroom instruction is combined with hands-on laboratory experience to best prepare graduates for their career choice. VT students spend weeks in actual work environments where they practice their knowledge with actual work experience. It is not uncommon for students demonstrating their developing expertise in an animal hospital or veterinary clinic to come away with an offer of employment.

“Some of our students are hired either in their clinical rotation (18-weeks for the first four terms) or their externship (16-weeks in their last term),” says Amber Carpenter, Veterinary Technology Program Director.

In recent months Carrington College’s Veterinary Technology program has had to implement distance learning techniques during stay-at-home cautionary mandates. “We’ve used tools such as Dove.org., VetGirl, VetMed, as well as other resources for our students that relate to the subjects they are learning,” says Amber.

“We are creating new ways to take clinical labs and giving students hands-on supply kits for practicing skills at home,” says Annette Miranda, VT faculty. “Engaging students in an online format and reaching out to students through different methods to offer learning opportunities that assist visual, tactile, audio, kinetic learners, lets students know that we are here during this challenging time.”

Everyone is pulling together to make certain that learning and program requirements are met. “My students have responded to the sudden changes in learning techniques with incredible grace,” says Gina. “They are committed to their decision to become RVTs (Registered Veterinary Technicians) and are doing all that they can to keep that goal at the forefront.”

The classroom location may have changed for the moment, but the integrity of the program is intact. “I conduct my class very similarly to how I conduct it when we are on campus,” says Gina. “I create a structure that students come to understand and rely on. I want students to participate in their learning experience. I want them to learn the language of veterinary medicine and become fluent in it. This is an integral part of their work in our field.”

Dr. Aurora Flanagan is the faculty veterinarian at the Citrus Heights campus. “I combine online lectures with videos of me acting out demonstrations and provide interactive Question-and-Answer sessions using a virtual ‘whiteboard’ to write and draw,” she says. “Our students are very motivated to learn and to get their degree, so they are forging new study methods.”

With social distancing guidelines fully implemented, the college is starting to bring VT students back onto campus for their laboratory experience requirements. “It’s been great, and students are excited to be back on campus and getting their labs completed,” says Amber. “It’s been a good test run for us in terms of practicing our social distancing (for future return to full-time campus experience).”

One of the major strengths of the Veterinary Technology program is the faculty that brings the textbooks, lectures, and hands-on instruction to life.

“Carrington has a really good program structure and solid curriculum, but the Vet Tech educators are the ones that deliver the content to the students; and it’s our life experience in the veterinary field that makes that content real,” says Amber. “We are there for our students and want to provide them with the best experience that we can – and convey our love for veterinary medicine.”

The sense of commitment to VT students is universal at Carrington College. “I’ve turned my living room into a classroom for them (students),” says Alison. “I know my students all have jobs and lives outside of school, so I’ve made myself available 24/7.”

Those who know a career in the veterinary field is right for them, also recognize the best path to get there.

Education may have temporarily adopted a new delivery platform, but the integrity of the Veterinary Technology program remains resolute.

“Our VT graduates and their skills are in high demand in the veterinary field,” says Amber. The college will continue to provide a high level of education for all students as they navigate the current climate of distance learning.

New Veterinary Technology program classes are starting September 21.

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