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Olds College to launch vet tech program

Aiming to address what it calls an “industry shortage,” Alberta’s Olds College plans to launch a new certificate program to train veterinary technical assistants.

The agriculture and agribusiness college’s 15-week, five-course veterinary technical assistant program, beginning in January, is expected to provide students with “the training necessary to be employed in veterinary clinics, animal shelters, boarding facilities and pet stores.”

“While the technical assistant role is generally an entry level position, it does require training and professionalism to assist veterinarians and animal health technicians with sick or injured animals,” Mark Fournier, the college’s program manager for continuing education, said in a release last week.

The college, based at Olds, about 60 km south of Red Deer, cited “industry feedback” as indicating that “finding the time to train new employees, along with a veterinarian or animal health technician’s regular duties, is exceedingly difficult.”

Enrolment is already open for the new program, with a third of the spots already filled for the program’s 2012 launch, the college said Thursday.

Students in the program can expect to learn “how to safely handle and restrain animals that are being cared for in a veterinary hospital, animal shelter, boarding or pet facility,” the college said, noting the primary focus will be on “basic husbandry of cats and dogs.”

Students will also learn about common procedures performed on small animals in a veterinary setting; how to assist veterinarians and animal health technicians; and how to operate and maintain equipment used in veterinary hospitals and animal care facilities.

“For those considering a career as a veterinarian or animal health technician, this course allows them to get into their field quickly and earn a living while completing the lengthier training they will need,” Fournier said.

The program’s five courses are small animal restraint and handling; principles of clinical procedures; veterinary equipment and instrumentation; patient preparation and husbandry; and communication and career preparation.

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