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!)
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!