How to Select a Veterinary Assistant Program in California
Realizing your long term goal of working with and helping animals by enrolling in a veterinary school in California could at first feel like a challenging task. After all, you must search for and enroll in a program that will deliver the necessary training so that you can succeed as a vet technician, assistant or technologist. But just how do you go about analyzing and comparing schools so that you can make the ideal choice? Many potential students launch their due diligence process by looking for campuses that are close to their residences. When they have found some nearby colleges, they determine which ones have the most affordable tuition and focus on those. Although expense and location are significant factors when comparing vet tech schools, they are not the only significant ones when making your assessments. Factors such as internship programs and accreditation should be considered as well. The main idea is that there are questions you should be asking the veterinary tech programs you are looking at before you make a final choice. We have provided several in this article in order to help get you started, but before we review them we’ll talk about the varied roles of vet assistants and techs and the training alternatives offered.
The Job of a Veterinary Technician and Assistant
Among the first decisions that you will have to make is whether you plan to train as a vet assistant, technologist or technician. Part of your preference might be predicated on the amount of time and money that you have to commit to your training, but the primary determiner will most likely be which specialty appeals to you the most. What vet techs and assistants share in common is that they all work under the direct guidance of a practicing and licensed veterinarian. And while there are numerous functions that they can perform within the California veterinary practice or hospital, they can’t prescribe drugs, diagnose health issues, or perform surgeries. In those areas they may only provide support to a licensed veterinarian. There are technologists and technicians that work away from the conventional vet practice, for example for zoos, animal shelters or police departments. Let’s take a look at the job functions and education requirements for each position.
- Vet Assistants in most cases will have gone through a formal training program, either as an intern or apprentice in a vet clinic or hospital, or by graduating from a certificate program at a trade school or community college in California. As the name implies, their job function is to assist the veterinarians and vet technicians in the performance of their duties. Usually they are not involved with more involved tasks, such as assisting with surgeries. Some of their typical responsibilities may include working at the front desk, preparing and cleaning exam rooms and equipment, or handling animals during examinations.
- Vet Technicians receive more extensive training in contrast to assistants and generally obtain a 2 year Associate Degree, preferably from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited program. They are in a fashion the veterinarian equivalent of medical nurses, since their fundamental job function is to assist veterinarians with diagnosing and treating animal patients. Where they differ from veterinary assistants is that they are involved in more complex activities, such as assisting with surgeries or providing medication. All states currently require vet technicians pass a credentialing exam for either registration, certification or licensing.
- Vet Technologists are comparable to vet techs and for the most part perform the same job functions. They are required to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in veterinary technology, which usually takes four years. Therefore the only real difference between a vet technologist and a technician is the technologist’s more advanced level of education. But with an advanced degree comes more career opportunities, higher salaries and potential management positions. They are additionally mandated to pass a credentialing exam for either certification, registration or licensing.
Vet techs and technologists may specialize in areas such as anesthesia, internal medicine or emergency care. Many may obtain certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) to work in labs or California research facilities as well.
Online Vet Training Classes
An approach that may be a solution for those with a hectic lifestyle or who are working full-time while attending vet college is to enroll in an online training program. Because the classes are offered by means of the internet, students can study on their own schedule wherever a computer is accessible. The educational program is taught using several methods, including videos, slide shows and live streaming webinars. And since the majority of veterinary technician and technologist degrees require clinical training, that segment can normally be completed as an internship or work study program at an area California veterinary practice or hospital. Distance learning, as it is also called, can in many instances lower the cost of your education. Tuition and secondary expenses, for instance for traveling and study supplies, may be cheaper compared to more conventional classroom programs. Just confirm that the program that you select is accredited, either by the AVMA or another nationally certified accrediting organization. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything is provided for a complete education. So if you are disciplined enough to learn in this more independent mode, an online vet tech or assistant school may be the perfect choice for you.
What to Ask Vet Assistant and Technician Schools
By now you probably have decided on which veterinary certificate or degree that you want to attain, and if you intend to study online or attend a program on campus. Since there are an abundance of veterinary community colleges, vocational and trade schools in California and across the United States, you should ask some qualifying questions to help fine tune your list of alternatives. As we pointed out in our opening, many future students start by prioritizing location and tuition expense. But we have previously mentioned other essential qualifiers, for example accreditation and internship programs. And obviously you want to enroll in a college that offers the specialty and degree that you want to earn. These and other factors are covered in the checklist of questions that you should ask the vet assistant and tech programs that you are reveiwing.
Is the Veterinary College Accredited? It’s imperative that you verify that the veterinary assistant or technician program you choose is accredited by a regional or national accrediting organization. As previously stated, one of the most highly regarded is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Vocational schools and colleges that are accredited by the AVMA have undergone a rigorous screening process that ensures you will receive a quality education. Also, accreditation is important if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, since numerous programs are not available for non-accredited programs. Last, having a certificate or degree from an accredited college is frequently a prerequisite for employment for many California veterinarian practices and hospitals.
What is the School’s Reputation? The veterinarian vocational school or college and program you select must have an exceptional reputation within the veterinary field. You can begin your due diligence by asking the schools you are interested in for endorsements from the employers in their job placement network. Other suggestions include looking on internet school rating websites and checking with the school’s accrediting agencies as well. You can ask the California school licensing authority if there have been any complaints or violations involving your specific schools. As a final tip, call some veterinarians that you may want to work for after you get your training. Find out what they think of your school choices. They may even suggest some colleges not on your list.
Are Internships Offered? The best approach to obtain practical hands on experience as a vet assistant or technician is to work in a medical environment. Find out if the schools you are considering have internship programs arranged with regional veterinarians, vet clinics or hospitals. Almost all veterinary medicine programs mandate practical training and a large number furnish it by means of internships. Not only will the experience be invaluable as far as the practical training, but an internship can also help establish relationships in the local California veterinary community and help in the search for employment after graduation.
Is there a Job Assistance Program? Searching for a job after graduating from a vet technician or assistant college may be challenging without the help of a job placement program. To begin with, ask what the graduation rates are for the schools you are evaluating. A low rate could mean that the instructors were unqualified to teach the curriculum or that a number of students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. Next, confirm that the colleges have a job placement program and find out what their placement rates are. A higher placement rate might mean that the California program has an outstanding reputation within the veterinary community and has a considerable network of contacts for student placements. A low rate could mean that the training is not highly thought of by employers or that the job assistance program is ineffective at placing students.
How Big are the Classes? If the classes are bigger, you most likely will receive little or no individualized instruction from the teachers. Find out from the California schools you are considering what their classroom teacher to student ratios are. You might also want to sit in on some classes (if practical) to monitor the interaction between students and instructors. Ask for feedback from students concerning the quality of instruction. Also, speak with the instructors and find out what their qualifications are as well as their methods of teaching.
Where is the Campus Located? Okay, we previously covered location, but there are several more points to make on the subject. If you are going to commute to your vet tech classes from work or home, you must make certain that the commuting time fits into your schedule. For instance, driving during the weekend to check out the route won’t be the same as the drive during rush hour traffic, particularly if the California campus is located near or in a larger city. Also, if you do decide to attend a school in another state or even outside of your County of residence, there may be higher tuition charges especially for state and community colleges. Of course attending online classes may be an alternative that will give you more flexibility and reduce the need for travel.
Do the Classes Fit Your Schedule? And last, it’s essential that you find out if the California veterinary schools you are evaluating offer class times that are sufficiently flexible to accommodate your schedule. For example, a number of students continue working full time and can only go to classes on the weekends or in the evenings. Others may only be able to attend classes in the morning or in the afternoon. Make sure that the class times you require are available prior to enrolling. Also, find out if you can make up classes that you may miss due to sickness, work or family emergencies. You might find that an online college is the ideal solution to fit your vet training into your active life.
Pick the Ideal Vet Technologist Program in California
Enrolling in the ideal veterinary technician college is a crucial first step to beginning a gratifying career providing treatment and care for pets and livestock. Future students thinking about vet tech or assistant schools must make their selection based on several key issues. Vet assistants, techs and technologists work in vet clinics, animal hospitals and animal shelters. They typically take on administrative duties and support the veterinarian with the animals when needed. As we have covered, it’s very important that you select a veterinary medicine program that is both accredited and has an excellent reputation within the field. This applies to online vet tech schools as well. By asking the questions included in our checklist for reviewing schools, you will be able to reduce your options so that you can make your final decision. And by selecting the ideal program, you can reach your goal of becoming a veterinary technician, assistant or technologist.