Vet Tech Education

Posted: Aug 6, 2013
Views: 6272 - Comments: 6

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I recently got back from a whirlwind week – two conferences in two cities in one week. I had a blast. The introvert in me is screaming for a day of silence, but the nerd in me is rejoicing!

In Chicago at the AVMA conference I got to lecture and teach every day I was there. I spent some time in the exhibit hall at the On the Floor @Dove booth and also had some great conversations with veterinarians leading the way in technician education. Dr. David Tollon (the owner and founder of VetMedTeam) and Dr. Jim Hurrell (the director at Penn Foster) are both so enthusiastic about technicians, our role in the hospital, and the importance of our empowerment and progression. It was an honor to meet them and spend just a little bit of time listening to their thoughts.

From Chicago I spent a couple days at home trying to quell the crazy in my codependent dog before I was off to Denver to exhibit at the Association of Veterinary Technician Educators (AVTE) conference. I was excited about this one, an entire weekend dedicated to those passionate about technician education, empowerment, licensing, learning; all of my favorite things! I met educators from all different schools: career centers, community colleges, online programs, and they were all eager to offer their students the best in training and experience to help make them the quality technicians of the future. It was inspiring, and I never had so much fun standing and talking all day. (This picture's of me at our AVTE booth with my old DoveLewis coworker Jen. She's an instructor now!)

Megan Brashear at the On the Floor @Dove booth at the AVTE Symposium for veterinary technician educators.

Add this to a question from the website about online education vs. driving an hour and a half to attend a traditional program and here’s what I think:

If you are motivated to learn, there are resources out there and amazing people willing to help you learn. But you have to know yourself and be honest.

I had a traditional education experience. In a classroom every day, hands-on learning with animals, tests in the testing center, field trips, study groups, graduation, job. And that’s what I needed. I am motivated to an extent. That motivation decreases dramatically when I sit on my couch at home. Distractions are everywhere, there are dog walks to be taken, there are terribly useless TV shows to be watched. If you’re like me, driving an hour and a half to a traditional learning tech program is worth it.

Maybe you have kids. Maybe you have a full time job that you can’t leave for two years while to you go to school. Maybe you are extremely self-motivated and can make yourself attend webinars, study at home, and hold study groups in chat rooms. Maybe you have a job in a progressive veterinary hospital that supports your desire to attend an online program and will mentor you through the hands-on process. If that’s you, there are amazing online programs led by engaging instructors who want you to succeed.

Be realistic, money is an issue for most of us. Think about what you can do, how much you’ll make when you’re done, and your ability to pay off loans.

But also realize education is often a sacrifice that takes work, especially if you’re committed to doing this right and your first step is school. As I’ve stated before, moving our profession forward is going to be challenging and requires states to mandate licensing. If things are to go the way we want them, this issue of where and how to get the degree required for licensing is going to come up more and more.

There are some great Facebook groups out there for technicians where these discussions are happening – and many people are giving their honest opinions about the various online programs out there. Join a group and ask questions. Do your research, ask yourself what you think you can handle, and jump in. No one regrets getting an education, especially when it’s offered by any one of the people I got to meet at those conferences I was at recently!



Brittney Dervin's picture

Hi I'm a recent Animal Science graduate just entering the veterinary field looking for employment. I found it so hard to find a job because everyone was looking for a LVT and I was just a anxious, inexperienced person with a degree. I was recently hired at a small animal hospital as a receptionist/assistant. I love it but over the last month it's hit me that maybe I should go back to school to get my license so I can be more behind the scenes involved in the medicine. I wish I would have known this before I spent 4 years and $40,000 in student loans obtaining a degree that I didn't really need. Do you think I have to go back to school to obtain the desire position/pay I want? Is there a shorter program that I can take to obtain my license?

Megan Brashear's picture

Brittney, you need to look up the requirements for the state where you live. Some states (I think) still have a grandfather clause that allows you to sit for the VTNE after a certain amount of on the job training hours. I'm talking like 5 years of OTJ training. If you really want to be a veterinary technician, education is what you need. You can do it online while working, as long as your hospital will let you do the hands on learning there. Some of the programs will allow you to go at your own pace which can mean faster graduation. I'm sorry about your frustration, good luck!

Sara Mahrt's picture

Jenn was one of my instructors at Harrison College in Indianapolis. Love her! :)

Annie Fulcomer's picture

I worked as a large animal tech for 7 years after getting a BS in Dairy Animal Science from PSU, then transitioned to small animal and became a "tech" in that clinic setting for 10 more years. Then I found myself looking for a better paying position, and quite frankly, a more supportive environment for my desire to challenge myself. Newly single and with livestock to support, quitting and going to school 2 hours away was out of the question. I began the Penn Foster program, and while working and having a life, I was able to complete the entire coursework in 11 months. Second practicum had to get put on hold for a few months after I landed my DREAM JOB! Now I'm working overnights at a busy emerg hospital, challenging myself each and every shift I'm on. Every single one of my coworkers are not only super supportive, but motivating as well. And one of the very best parts? I'll pay off this degree just 6 months after I graduate, and I can take the VTNE this March. Penn Foster and Dr Hurrell have helped me achieve my goals thus far, next step is VTS in ECC.

Dianna Eichorn's picture

Dr Hurrell was one of my instructors at Macomb Community in Michigan back in '02. He's great and I'm so glad to see that he is still dedicated to technician education!

Krystal Baer's picture

Can you recommend an online class that can be taken while working a full time job? I've been with my emergency clinic for 11 years, but Oregon doesn't allow grandfathering in any more. I have a full time job and a full time little 5 year old, so online is what will work best for me. I just don't know where to start looking. Help!! Thank you!