How to Become a Veterinary Assistant?
Veterinary assistant programs are relatively easy to get enrolled into because there are no strict education requirements. A diploma from high school is not always required and every institution can decide the criteria for admission.
Across the United States, you can begin to become a veterinary assistant by attending courses provided by community colleges, training centers, vocational schools, and technical institutes.
In addition, online veterinary assistant programs are becoming more popular. Each program is designed by the institution and the curriculum may vary. However, the main concepts that are being taught are similar between institutions and will provide the necessary training to become a skilled veterinary assistant.
Online programs are the best and fastest way to complete your veterinary assistant certificate. If you decide to take an online course you will most likely receive certification in six months.
What do the Online Veterinary Programs Include?
Some of the courses provided by the certified programs include:
- Handling and assisting animals
- Animal terminology
- Animal nursing
- Diagnostic imaging
The hands-on experience is just as important as the theoretical part, therefore the students often have laboratory work during their studies. At The end of the program, the students explore the fields of surgical patient procedures and learn about pharmacology, aseptic techniques, anesthesia, and surgical assisting.
Through this, future veterinary assistants will learn how to properly prepare an animal for surgery and correctly measure the vital statistics of an animal.
Programs through training-on-the-job, externship, and internship are available as well. One can get a certificate for veterinary assistant through the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA).
NAVTA offers a couple of veterinary assistant programs and has an approved program distinction issued for about 35 other programs in the United States. This type of certification (Approved Veterinary Assistant) is recognized everywhere in the United States.
The main difference between veterinary assistant programs and the rest of the veterinary realm is that the assistant program is a certificate program and not a degree program.
What Does a Veterinary Assistant do?
Veterinary assistants make the jobs of veterinary technicians and veterinarians a lot easier and that’s why they represent a valuable part of the veterinary healthcare team.
A veterinary assistant is someone who spends most of the time helping animals in need. They help check patients in, assist in checking vitals, prepare prescriptions, restrain animals, and so much more.
They also have an opportunity to begin building a more challenging veterinary career with the possibility of pursuing more school in the future.
More on the Veterinary Assistant’s Job
Veterinary assistants can find their place in helping around the clinic in many ways. First of all, they have face-to-face contact with clients. Upon arrival, they greet the clients, make follow-up calls, and schedule appointments.
They also control the inventory and continuously update the medical records of patients.
On the more medical aspect, veterinary assistants prepare the examination and operating room and sanitize the necessary equipment for everyday work at the clinic.
They can be involved in the process and are trained to properly administer medication, calm animals, safely and properly restrain them and guarantee the safety of working personnel and the animals.
To conclude, an assistant is the person responsible for the wellness of the hospitalized animal.
Characteristics of a Great Vet Assistant
Except for loving animals, veterinary assistants need to be physically endurable, especially when restraining strong animals. They also need to be patient, mature, and emotionally stable, especially when encountering animals that have been abused or dealing with a client who has to put their beloved animal down.
Clients usually interact with the veterinary assistants first, therefore a good assistant has to know how to calm emotional owners. You can read more about the Characteristics of a Successful Veterinarian.
Certification, Licensing and Registration Requirements of Veterinary Assistants
In order to maintain and promote high standards of health care for animals, all of the states in the country require a professional license from all veterinary assistants. You can get a professional license by passing an oral and written examination process.
At times there is a practical test. With the practical examination, a veterinary assistant proves that he/she is physically able to work in an animal environment and perform daily duties successfully. After passing the exam you get licensed, certified, or registered.
To obtain a license, registration, or certificate it depends on what state you are in. In one state you are a certified veterinary assistant and in another, you could be registered, but the requirements remain the same.
Advancement in a Vet Assistant Career
Becoming a veterinary assistant is the easiest way to enter the world of veterinary medicine. The hierarchy inside a clinic puts veterinary assistants on the lowest scale, but that doesn’t mean that veterinary assistants aren’t cherished for what they do and for the help they provide.
This is because of the educational requirements since veterinary assistants only need certification by taking a course that can last for as little as six months.
But the veterinary assistant position allows opportunities and options for career advancement in the future.
A veterinary assistant can advance in his/her career with continuous education or certification in the future. You can make a decision to restart your education and become a veterinary technician by completing an associate’s degree.
If you are interested in different veterinary professions, read the article with a personal touch by Nicole LaForest on Becoming a veterinary technician.
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