Dogs, cats, fish, and guinea pigs are common animals that kids grow up and have as pets. Those pets are where most people develop their love for animals. With that love comes along an occupation any animal lover has thought of pursuing in the form of being a veterinarian.
“Our first cohort of students started this last fall so they are now deep into the study of veterinarian technology,” said Dr. Louisa Schmid, veterinarian technology program director.
The program might be new to the school, but it is already making big strides for the growth of student enrollment and a new campus location. A new facility is being developed in Lindale that will be a big part of the vet tech program. Not only will it be used for the vet tech program, but it will also be accessible for many other students.
“We’ll have a totally brand-new area for teaching veterinarian technology. There will also be a surgical suite, an X-ray area, clinical labs, places for anatomy and physiology, as well as microbiology,” said Schmid. “It’s really going to be quite a unique area and should be moving in over the spring break. By the time we get the next student cohort next fall, they should be in the new building in Lindale.”
Along with other medical field related programs, the vet tech program is a selective-based program. This means applicants must be college-ready, have taken the SAT or ACT, and a TEAS 5 test, which is meant to see if the applicants’ interest line up with an allied-health program. The program also requires 40 hours of experience in a veterinarian clinic.
“Our first semester there is an introduction to vet tech, and we are going to do office management during that first semester, as well as medical terminology related to veterinarian work,” said Schmid. “Other than that, we have our basic core courses. Those would be introductory to chemistry and we do ask for a speech course in the fall semester as well. So after that first semester, they should have a feeling for whether they want to get into this or not because we do start animal work that first semester.”
Upon graduation from the program, students will be ready to take the national veterinarian technician exam and those who pass the exam will be licensed veterinarian technicians. They can then find work locally or anywhere in the state and expect better pay than someone with no experience and no education. Further education will make them a specialist in what they decide to pursue.
“There are different certificates where you can get a specialty in different areas of veterinarian technology. If you are interested in behavior or if you are interested in equine (horses), if you are interested in anesthesiology you can go and do more experience, work up some case studies, take an exam and get a certificate that allows you put even more letters after your name besides LVT,” said Schmid.
The growing need for more licensed veterinarian technicians is in the same area as nurses and other human medical-related fields. Veterinarian technicians fill similar roles as a physicians’ assistant or a nurse practitioner does for physicians.
“Veterinarians are becoming more and more aware of how useful an LVT can be in their practice. Veterinarian technicians do everything. They take blood, they incubate for surgery, they monitor during surgery, they run blood work in the lab, they take x-rays, they educate people on the medical care their animal is going to receive and pharmacology by preparing drugs and talk to people about administering the medicine. Of course, they get to interact with the animals in the clinic, usually that is very pleasant, but sometimes it is not,” said Schmid.
In only the second semester, it is new not only to the students in the program but also the staff. Learning curves are still being straightened out but with every resolution come newfound success for everyone involved in the program and ultimately, a brighter future for the graduates of the program.
“With it being a new program we’re all feeling our way forward but I think once we get done I’d like for our students to have a range of experience so they can walk in and have the hands-on skills to deal with small animals, to deal with large animals and certainly to have the knowledge to get them ready to pass this national exam so they can come out with something that is really valuable to them,” said Schmid.