How to Choose a Veterinary Medicine School Montgomery Pennsylvania
Fulfilling your lifelong dream of working with and helping animals by enrolling in a veterinary college near Montgomery PA may at first seem like a daunting task. After all, you need to find and enroll in a school that will provide the proper training so that you can succeed as a vet assistant, technician or technologist. But just how do you go about evaluating and comparing programs so that you can make the right choice? Many aspiring students start their due diligence process by looking for schools that are close to their homes. Once they have located some local schools, they find out which ones have the lowest tuition and hone in on those. Although location and cost are important considerations when comparing schools, they are by no means the only important ones when making your comparisons. Qualifiers such as accreditation and internship programs should be considered as well. The point is that there are questions you should be asking the vet schools you are looking at before you make a final choice. We have provided several in this article to help get you started, but before we review them we’ll discuss the different roles of vet techs and assistants and the training options available.
The Role of a Vet Tech and Assistant
One of the first decisions that you will have to make is whether you want to train as a veterinary assistant, technician or technologist. Part of your decision may be based on the amount of time and money that you have to invest in your education, but the main determiner will probably be which specialty appeals to you most. What techs and assistants have in common is that they all work under the direct guidance of a licensed and practicing veterinarian. And although there are many duties that they can perform within the veterinary practice or hospital, they can’t prescribe medications, diagnose conditions, or perform surgical procedures. In those areas they may only provide support to a licensed vet. There are technicians and technologists that work outside of the typical Montgomery vet practice, such as for zoos, animal shelters or police departments. Let’s take a look at the duties and training requirements for each position.
- Vet Assistants in most cases will have gone through a formal training program, either as an apprentice or intern in a practice, or by completing a certificate program at a community college or vocational school. As the name implies, their job function is to assist the vets and vet techs in the performance of their duties. Usually they are not involved with more complex tasks, such as assisting with surgical procedures. Some of their typical duties may include working at the front desk, preparing and cleaning exam rooms and equipment, or controlling animals during examinations.
- Vet Technicians receive more advanced training compared to assistants and usually earn a 2 year Associate Degree, preferably from an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited program. They are in a sense the veterinary equivalent of medical nurses, since their general job function is to assist veterinarians with diagnosing and treating animal patients. Where they differ from vet assistants is that they are involved in more complex tasks, such as assisting with surgical procedures or administering medication. All states currently require vet techs to pass a credentialing exam for either licensing, registration or certification.
- Vet Technologists are similar to vet techs and for the most part perform the same job functions. They are required to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in veterinary technology, which generally takes 4 years. So the only real difference between a vet technologist and a technician is the technologist’s higher level of education. But with an advanced degree come more job opportunities, higher salaries and possible management positions. They are also required to pass a credentialing exam for either licensing, registration or certification.
Vet techs and technologists may specialize in areas such as internal medicine, anesthesia or emergency care. Some may receive certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) to work in Pennsylvania labs or research facilities as well.
Veterinary Online Programs
An option that may make sense for those with a busy schedule or working full time while attending vet school is to enroll in an online program. Since the classes are made available via the internet, students can study on their own schedule wherever a computer is accessible. The curriculum is taught using multiple venues, including videos, slide shows and live streaming webinars. And since many vet tech and technologist degrees require clinical training, that portion can usually be completed as an internship or work study program at a local Montgomery veterinary practice or hospital. Distance learning, as it is also called, can in some instances reduce the cost of your education. Tuition and ancillary expenses, such as for travel and study materials, may be lower compared to more traditional classroom courses. Just be sure that the program that you enroll in is accredited, either by the AVMA or another nationally recognized accrediting organization. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything is provided for a comprehensive education. So if you are disciplined enough to learn in this more independent fashion, an online vet tech or assistant program may be the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Vet Assistant and Tech Colleges
At this point you should have decided on which veterinary credential that you want to earn, and if you want to study online or attend a school on campus. Since there are an abundance of veterinary community colleges and vocational schools in the Montgomery area as well as across the United States, you need to ask some qualifying questions to help narrow down your list of options. As we pointed out in our opening, many potential students start by focusing on location and the cost of tuition. But we have already touched on other important qualifiers, such as accreditation and internship programs. And obviously you want to enroll in a program that offers the degree and specialty that you are interested in. These and other factors are covered in the list of questions that you should ask the veterinary assistant and tech schools that you are considering.
Is the Veterinary Medicine Program Accredited? It’s important that you confirm that the vet assistant or tech program you enroll in is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency. As previously mentioned, one of the most highly regarded is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Vocational schools and colleges that are accredited by the AVMA have gone through a rigorous screening process that ensures you will receive a quality education. Also, accreditation is important if you are applying for a student loan or financial assistance, since many programs are not available for non-accredited schools. And finally, having a degree or certificate from an accredited program is often a prerequisite for employment for many Montgomery area veterinary clinics and hospitals.
What is the School’s Reputation? The veterinarian college or vocational school and program you enroll in should have an excellent reputation within the veterinary community. You can start your due diligence by asking the schools you are interested in for references from the employers in their job placement network. Other suggestions include checking for online school rating websites and contacting the school’s accrediting organizations as well. You can ask the Pennsylvania school licensing authority if there have been any complaints or violations regarding your specific schools. As a final suggestion, call some Montgomery veterinarians that you may want to work for after you receive your training. Find out what they think about your school choices. They may even recommend one or more schools not on your list.
Is there an Internship Program? The best way to get practical hands on experience as a vet assistant or tech is to work in a clinical setting. Find out if the schools you are considering have an internship program set up with local Montgomery area veterinarians, vet clinics or hospitals. Most veterinary medicine programs require clinical training and many provide it through internships. Not only will the experience be valuable as far as the practical training, but an internship may also help build relationships in the local veterinary community and aid in the search for a position after graduation.
Is there a Job Placement Program? Finding a job after graduating from a vet tech or assistant school can be challenging without the help of a job placement program. First, find out what the graduation rates are for the schools you are reviewing. A low rate could mean that the instructors were ineffective at teaching the curriculum or that the students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. Next, confirm that the schools have a job placement program and find out what their placement rates are. A higher placement rate may indicate that the school has an excellent reputation within the vet community and has a substantial network of Montgomery employer contacts for student placements. A lower rate could mean that the training is not well thought of by employers or that the job placement program is ineffective at placing students.
How Large are the Classes? If the classes are larger, you may receive little or no one-on-one instruction from the teachers. Find out from the schools you are considering what their classroom teacher to student ratios are. You may also want to attend some classes if they are near Montgomery to monitor the interaction between students and instructors. Get feedback from students regarding the quality of instruction. Also, talk with the teachers and find out what their backgrounds are as well as their methods of teaching.
Where is the School Located? Yes, we already covered location, but there are a few more points to make on the topic. If you are going to commute to your veterinary technician classes from home or work, you need to make sure that the driving time fits into your schedule. For example, driving during the weekend to check out the route won’t be the same as the drive during rush hour traffic, especially if the school is located in or near a larger city. Also, if you do decide to attend a school in another state or even outside of your county, there may be higher tuition fees especially for community colleges. Of course taking classes online in Montgomery may be an option that will give you more flexibility and reduce the need for travel.
Do the Classes Fit Your Schedule? And last, it’s important that you find out if the vet schools you are looking at offer class times flexible enough to fit your schedule. For example, many students continue working full time and can only attend classes near Montgomery on the weekends or in the evenings. Some may only be able to attend classes in the morning or in the afternoon. Make sure that the class times you need are offered before enrolling. Also, find out if you can make up classes that you may miss due to work, illness or family emergencies. You may find that an online program is the best way to fit your education into your busy life.
Enroll in the Right Vet Technologist Program Montgomery PA
Enrolling in the right veterinary technician program is an important first step to beginning a rewarding career providing care and treatment for animals. As we have covered, it’s very important that you choose a veterinary medicine program that is both accredited and has an excellent reputation within the field. This applies to online vet tech schools as well. By asking the questions provided in our checklist for evaluating schools, you will be able to narrow down your options so that you can make your final choice. And by selecting the right program, you can achieve your goal of becoming a veterinary assistant in Montgomery 17752.