By Kailyn Fournier
With all of the art classes moving into the Steinhauer-Rogan-Black Humanities building, it leaves the former Fine Arts building in need of a new purpose. That new purpose could be fulfilled as early as January of next semester as the new home of the Veterinary Technology program.
“I think it is an exciting time for our program at Vol State,” Suzanne Gibson, an adjunct instructor for the Vet Tech Program, says, “as we will be moving from the Science Field Station to a state of the art 9,000 square foot building next year on main campus.”
The Vet Tech program is for students who are interested in becoming a veterinary nurses. It traditionally is a two year program, however there is a six year option for part time students. Gibson says, “Once these students graduate from the Vet Tech program, most will likely go into private practice (in a veterinary clinic) but with this degree they have numerous options and opportunities available to them.”
Every year the program accepts 24 students who have previously completed 40 hours of observing or volunteering work in a veterinary setting, or have grown up on a farm taking care of animals.
The reason they have 40 required hours of observation is so that the students are well informed of the career they’re getting into. “People think that it’s going to be playing with puppies and kittens all day but it’s not,” says Hope Wright, one of the people in charge of Vet Tech. “They’ll see blood, they’ll see surgery, but it’s fun too.”
Gibson says, “It’s important to learn the science and technical skills, but it also takes a special person to be a veterinary technician. We all love animals, but you also have to enjoy helping people as well, which takes a person that is very caring, compassionate, and dedicated.”
It is academic though, as Donna Smith, an instructor and the clinical coordinator for Vet Tech, says, “It’s a very rigorous program.” Students will complete 345 hours of hands-on learning by the time they graduate. Getting that time won’t be a challenge, though. With the relationships the program has established, Vet Tech has quite a few local farmers and approximately 30 clinical affiliates. This is partly due to the creation of the program being, “…a true community effort,” according to Douglas Shaw, who was in charge of creating the curriculum and organizing Vet Tech at Vol state.
Shaw also says, “Our students are getting jobs….Out of 13 students in one class, all but one are already in a veterinary career.” Smith says something similar about one of the previous years, “One of the neatest things [was], we had 19 graduates. 17 of those had jobs. It’s just phenomenal.”
Smith thinks part of the success is due to the fact when it started, Vol State was the 5th school in Tennessee to have the Vet Tech program. The schools are all spread out too, so the low number of schools teaching the program makes the students very sought after, not only here but even in the states bordering Tennessee. With the new building, Smith thinks the program has a lot of potential to grow.
The program itself is very sought after by students as well, with over 50 students applying for this year. Again, only 24 students are selected per year. So, for students who are interested, or know someone who might be interested in applying for the Vet Tech program next year, more information and the application can be found at www.volstate.edu/VetTech.