On Friday, October 25, 2019, the Veterinary Technology program at York County Community College held the first event offering Continuing Education credits for Veterinary Technicians as well as the first organizational meeting for a Maine Veterinary Technician’s Association. Adrienne Kruzer RVT, LVT, of Nutramax Labs, has generously flown up from South Carolina to present to the students in the Animal Nutrition course at YCCC but this time her presentation was available to the broader audience of all area Veterinary Technicians providing the opportunity for continuing education credits.
After the presentation by Kruzer of Nutramax Labs, students and graduates of the YCCC Veterinary Technology program, led by the program Department Chair, Peg Wheeler MS, LVT, and supported by the Executive Director of the Maine Veterinary Medical Association, Katherine Soverel, held the first organizational meeting of a Maine Veterinary Technician’s Association.
In 2012 YCCC began the work of building an accredited program in veterinary technology. In 2013, Wheeler was hired to design the curriculum and take the program through accreditation with the national accreditor, the American Veterinary Medical Association. The program received its Initial Accreditation status in 2016 as they saw their first cohort of graduates leave and enter the workplace. Students that graduate from AVMA accredited veterinary technology programs are required to sit for a national exam in order to receive their license as veterinary technicians. The success rate of YCCC veterinary technology students has been excellent as has been their success in finding employment in the field. Nearly all graduates of the program are hired in veterinary practices prior to graduation and they can continue to receive career advisement through the Department Chair and the networking they’ve developed with their instructors in the program.
Earlier this year, YCCC and the University of Maine in Augusta signed an agreement that offers graduates of the YCCC program, who pass their national exam, the option of completing a bachelor’s degree without leaving the practices where they have been employed. The remaining course work to complete a four-year degree can be completed online. This accomplishment marked was one of two important goals for Wheeler, the next one being to get the Maine Veterinary Technician’s Association functioning as a continuing resource for students. This Association will offer students a vehicle for having a voice in the future of their industry where change is happening. Nationally, there is an initiative moving forward in the pilot stages to change the job title from Veterinary Technician to Veterinary Nurse. This initiative has been organized by the professional organization, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America. The goal is to help clients better understand the nature of the work done by veterinary technicians and its similarity to the primary patient care performed by nurses. Veterinary technician students are required to learn restraint skills, pharmacology, nutrition, phlebotomy, anesthetic administration, and surgical monitoring, lab animal medicine, large animal management, imaging, dental care and they are required to have a minimum of 240 hours of practicum work in the veterinary clinic setting. Currently, there are just over 200 accredited veterinary technology programs nationwide. In order to participate in the Veterinary Nurse initiative, veterinary technicians must live in states that a) have required licensing for veterinary technicians, b) have active veterinary technician associations and 3) have required continuing education requirements. Currently, Maine does have a requirement for licensing for veterinary technicians and it is Wheeler’s goal to meet the second two requirements within the next couple of years. In May of 2019, Wheeler presented this plan to the Maine Veterinary Medical Association and received strong support from that group and their Executive Director, Katherine Soverel, has committed to participating as they move forward.
Once the Veterinary Technology program was completed, Wheeler was tasked with building the second program in animal health at YCCC, the Animal Care and Management program. That program is designed for students interested in working in aspects of animal care which may include work in veterinary clinics (other than veterinary technology) such as veterinary assistants, receptionists or managers, or professional pet care work such as pet walking, pet sitting, grooming, boarding or training, and work with other species including equine training or stable management, dairy work or management, and wildlife or other non-profit animal endeavors. This program includes business management courses to support students working at that level in existing businesses as well as being prepared to manage their own small businesses. The first cohort of students in this program includes several who are either already running a business or are fully intending to so upon graduation.
For more information about the animal care programs at YCCC, Veterinary Technology or Animal Care and Management, please contact the Department Chair, Peg Wheeler MS, LVT at firstname.lastname@example.org.