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Kristen Cyr
Web Content manager

New program helps prepare students
to be veterinary assistants

Dec. 22, 2014

Veterinary assistant checking on dog. Veterinary assistants help with the care of animals in shelters, animal hospitals and veterinary offices. A new noncredit program will combine classroom education with an externship to give students hands-on experience in this field.

As more and more people welcome pets into their families – and as those same people look to provide their furry friends with exceptional care – the demand for trained veterinary assistants continues to grow.

This spring, the Community College of Rhode Island's Center for Workforce and Community Education will begin offering a Veterinary Assistant training program to interested students.

"This is really one of the up-and-coming jobs," said CWCE Coordinator Sue Caressimo, who pointed to statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor that projected an increase of employment of up to 35 percent over the period from 2006 to 2016. Those same reports showed that a starting salary for a veterinary assistant could range from $22,000 to $26,000 per year.

The program that CCRI plans to use is provided in partnership with education consulting company MK Education and has been in place with much success at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, said Caressimo.

During the 15-week course, students will complete 90 hours of classroom training complemented by a 30-hour externship.

In that time, students will become prepared to assist in the care of animals in veterinary offices as well as shelters and animal hospitals and also will receive training in important office tasks as well as communicating with patients' families.

Students will receive a certificate of completion upon fulfillment of classroom and externship components. This program differs from veterinary technician programs, which require an associate degree and additional certification.

"This is a program that will give students useful skills and knowledge, particularly if they are animal lovers," said Caressimo. "And veterinary care has certainly evolved."

Program modules will include units on professionalism and ethics; office and hospital procedures including prescriptions; animal nursing, which covers medications, grooming, sanitation, feeding, safety and diseases; exam room procedures; surgical preparation and assisting; laboratory procedures and equipment; radiology; pharmacology; and urinalysis.

The college is working on relationships with potential externship preceptors, said Caressimo, to help facilitate valuable hands-on experiences for the students.

Caressimo said that the class size could be up to 20 students. She plans to offer the program twice per year. The first session will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays from March 7 to July 25 at the Knight Campus, 400 East Ave., Warwick. The cost to attend is $1,800. Interested students can contact Caressimo by email or 401-455-6070 to enroll.

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Last Updated: 11/2/18