The students in TMCC’s Veterinary Technician (or, Vet Tech) program are learning the skills they will need to save the lives of large and small domestic animals. It’s this diversity of experience—paired with the knowledge that they are providing a much-needed service in our community—that draws students to the Vet Tech program so much that it is relocating to the Meadowood Center, where additional room will enable the program to grow.
Second year student Alyssa Halliburton has found the varied and practical aspects of the program especially useful. Among her favorite classes was one that focused on large animals. “Every week, we got to practice physical exams and learn different things—which is important.” Halliburton also appreciated a class that focused on critical care which is often needed in a small animal veterinary hospital. “These experiences help us to feel comfortable when you go into the field. Situations like that will come up when you work for a real practice, and the program prepared us for what we will encounter in our jobs.”
The Importance of Learning Environments
While some subjects can be studied anywhere (it’s hard to argue that the pursuits of math or English are inspired by a particular building or room) for professions that require precise, technical skills, the right learning environment can make all the difference in preparing students to face real workplace—and real world—experiences.
TMCC’s Veterinary Technician program, currently housed in the William N. Pennington Health Science Center, has been growing—following the demand of our local economy. Through several funding sources, including a $500,000 matching grant from the William N. Pennington Foundation (contingent on raising a match by June 30) to assist with construction, the TMCC Foundation is seeking support from private donors as well as state grant funds to support the relocation of the program to the Meadowood Center.
The TMCC Foundation is participating in Nevada’s Big Give on March 21, 2019 to assist with raising funds required for the match. The goal is to raise 10% of the remaining funds needed or $21,000 through Nevada’s Big Give, Nevada’s day to unite in giving.
The proposed relocation project would enable the program to grow by 25% while adding “real life” hospital spaces, including a surgery room, x-ray room, exam room and a reception area. Additionally, a new “wet lab” would be added to the Meadowood Center, that will provide increased lab experiences for not only the Vet Tech program, but for general education lab science classes.
In fact, the proposed expansion will affect not only Vet Tech, but 19 other programs and their students.
What Veterinary Technicians Do
Vet Techs—the “nurses” of the veterinary field—are the mainstay of any office visit to your local vet. Whether your canine, feline, aviary, equestrian—or other animal companion—is dropping in for a regular check-up or has a serious condition, a Vet Tech is the person most likely to spend the most time with your animal; responsible for animal nursing care, surgical assisting, dental cleaning, dental and general radiographs, diagnostic testing, administering and monitoring anesthetics and educating clients on basic pet care, Vet Techs enable busy offices to offer services to a larger number of clientele.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for Veterinary Technicians is projected to grow 20 percent from 2016 to 2026. The local demand for Veterinary Technicians and Veterinary Assistants is also expected to remain strong as our community continues to grow and the number of pets we own increases.
Positive Outcomes for Vet Tech Graduates
TMCC’s Vet Tech program is a highly regarded, nationally accredited four-semester program that accommodates 16 students per year, with a new cohort beginning every fall. The program has a greater than 90% overall pass rate on the national exam (Veterinary Technician National Exam or VTNE) required for licensing.
Eighty-one percent of our graduates over the past four years have remained in Northern Nevada employed at local veterinary offices, such as Baring Boulevard Veterinary Hospital, Carson Valley Veterinary Hospital, Sage Veterinary Hospital and Klaich Animal Hospital, among several others.
Additionally, students who find their professional calling also find their “place” in our community: “The program gives us opportunities to get in the community, doing various aspects of veterinary work such as physical exams, recognizing pathologies, etc. But, we also get to meet others in the field who work in the community, and we become close, like a family,” said second-year student Heather Wisneski.
Giving Back to the Community
The increased access to educational resources and practical experience will enable the Vet Tech program to continue its contributions to our community not only by providing highly qualified and licensed Veterinary Technicians, but also through its community collaborations.
In fact, TMCC’s Vet Tech program is an important source of veterinary care provided to lost and injured animals brought to Washoe County Regional Animal Services (WCRAS), where animals needing care are treated prior to transfer to the Nevada Humane Society or other adoption services. For over 12 years, the Vet Tech program and WCRAS have mutually benefited by providing Vet Tech students the opportunity to practice their veterinary skills caring for lost and/or injured animals while supplementing staffing needs for WCRAS.
“This program doesn’t just teach us to be Veterinary Technicians,” said second-year student Chelsea Hamm, “It’s also about giving back to the community. We volunteer at the Animal Shelter, helping animals in search of their forever homes.”
In 2017, WCRAS received 34,870 calls for service and took in 13,642 animals. TMCC Vet Tech students, under the guidance of a veterinarian, examine many of the animals that come into WCRAS, ensuring that injuries are stabilized and immediate medical needs are addressed. These students have assisted with the treatment and recovery of many homeless animals providing them with a much needed chance for adoption.