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For the Love of Paws: Veterinary Nursing

Veterinary nurse kisses a small puppy.
Rebecca A. Eckland

This semester, TMCC’s Veterinary Technician Program is receiving a new name. The program, which will be known as Veterinary Nursing, has also moved into its new official home at the TMCC Meadowood Center. 

“There is a movement to unify the profession,” explained Michele Noreen, Program Director. “The public understands what a nurse does. Our graduates are caregivers in the veterinary profession. The way these professionals are credentialed also varies by state. In some states, there is a certification process, in others, it’s a licensure process or a registration. The change  to Veterinary Nursing is a way to help educate the public about what this professional does and unify the credentialing process eventually.” 

However, even the term “nursing” is misleading. “Our graduates do much more than nursing—they are dental hygienists, radiologic technicians, and surgical assistants,” said Noreen. Although veterinarians might be the most-well known profession to the general public in this line of work, veterinary nurses are on the front line of providing the actual hands-on care. 

“There’s also a common misperception that these students will continue with their education to become veterinary doctors,” said Noreen, who explained that this is not the case. “This is a separate profession... that would be like a student going through a human nursing program because they want to be a doctor. Someone can choose to pursue additional education and change their career, but most of the time you go to nursing school because you want to be a nurse. It is the same with veterinary nurses.” 

A Labor of Love

As our community continues to grow, and people continue adding animal companions to their households, the need for veterinary nurses will continue to grow. Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the field to grow by an additional 30% by 2022.

Two chihuahuas resting on a cushion.

These two chihuahuas found a forever home with TMCC Veterinary Nursing student Ashley Williams.

“It’s really an exciting field and due to all the innovations in technology, it will continue to advance,” said Noreen.

Students in the Veterinary Nursing program are driven by their love of animals and who want a career as a hands-on care provider. They prepare animals for anesthesia, perform dental cleanings, and carry out most care-related functions. Veterinary nurses are the professionals in a vet hospital who interface the most with the patients and often educate owners on providing responsible care for their animals.

Earlier this semester, TMCC Veterinary Nursing students worked with the Chihuahua Rescue Truckee Meadows, an organization that provides veterinary care and placement services for rescued chihuahuas. Currently, chihuahuas are the number one breed of dogs euthanized in shelters in the Western United States. According to the organization’s website, this is due in part to the false belief that they cannot be euthanized due to their small size. 

“Working with the Chihuahua Rescue is always rewarding,” said Veterinary Nursing student  Ashley Williams. “[As with working with any rescue organization, the experience teaches us] how to improve and develop our skills. Working with the Chihuahua Rescue is really awesome because they have limited resources, so it’s a win-win from both ends: we get to learn and develop our skills and they get services for their animals.” 

The experience impacted Williams more than just professionally, however. “I decided I wanted to adopt my two little rascals when I picked one up to hold him. It tugged at my heart strings and I knew I wanted to give them a good home.” 

Williams adopted two chihuahuas in need of a home. “They are brothers who were surrendered to the rescue. I wanted them to be together forever and grow up in a loving home,” she said.

Two chihuahuas sitting with a human while wearing veterinary cones.

Williams, who wants to continue working in the emergency field, is driven by her love of animals... in particular, these two chihuahuas she rescued this semester.

“I love the program,” said Williams. “I would 100% recommend it... you learn so much and get to be part of so much more than a two-year program. The instructors are always available to answer questions... they have so much knowledge and experience.” 

TMCC’s Veterinary Nursing program is also Williams’s gateway to her lifelong career helping—and healing—animals. “I don’t have plans to go further and become a doctor, because I love being a [veterinary nurse.] I am currently in the emergency field and I plan on staying in emergency because there is always a new skill that I can learn,” she said. 

It was also the method by which she acquired two lifelong pets who have certainly found a good home.  

For more information about the Veterinary Nursing Program, contact the department at 775-824-8640 or send a message through the program’s contact page