Veterinary Technician - FAQ'S
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What is a Veterinary Technician?

A Veterinary Technician is a specially trained person who works as an essential part of the veterinary medical team, to provide the highest quality of animal health care. Veterinary Technicians find careers in veterinary practices dealing with dogs, cats, birds, horses, cattle and pocket pets. They also work in research facilities, teaching, zoological parks, humane societies and with the federal and provincial governments.

Program Objectives

Students who graduate from this program will have been trained to work at the technical level in the field of animal health. The primary objective of the Veterinary Technician Program at the St. Clair College is to provide personnel capable of assisting veterinarians in practice. Graduates from the program have been successfully placed in small animal, equine, large animal, mixed practices, research institutions, and humane societies.
Other fields covered by graduates include pharmaceutical companies, government regulatory positions, zoological parks, and exotic animal practice.
Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU)
General Performance Objectives for Veterinary Technician Programs are set by MTCU.
The successful completion of the Veterinary Technician program enables the graduate to:
  • Perform basic patient examinations and collect data on vital signs.
  • Restrain and manage small animals in clinical situations.
  • Administer medications by common drug routes and prepare pharmaceuticals as prescribed by a veterinarian.
  • Prepare anesthetic delivery systems, induce anesthesia, and monitor patients under anesthesia.
  • Prepare and maintain the surgical area and assist during surgical procedures.
  • Perform dental prophylactic procedures on dogs and cats.
  • Produce standard diagnostic radiographs.
  • Collect and process samples for diagnostic laboratory work.
  • Perform common veterinary diagnostic tests, such as blood chemistries, differentials, culture and sensitivities and EKG’s.
  • Perform basic veterinary practice management including computer applications.
  • Recognize behavioral signs of small animals.
  • Counsel clients especially in the area of pet nutrition.
Program Description
The Veterinary Technician program at St. Clair College should be considered a medical and scientific learning experience.
The program is fully accredited by the:
  • Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA)
  • Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT)
  • Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC)
Courses in the first year deal mainly with the basic disciplines although invariably in an applied manner. These courses are considered essential in order to build a firm base for the clinical and applied subjects taken later in the program.
Clinical experience begins with animal care duties in the first semester. The amount of time spent working with equipment and animals increases steadily from first to fourth semester. In the final semester, more than one half of the students’ time is spent in a laboratory or teaching clinic with practical applied topics. Practical work experience components at local veterinary hospitals during an externship also form part of the 2nd year.
Throughout the program, technical performance is evaluated in addition to theoretical knowledge. It is felt by the program faculty that competence in both of these areas is necessary to be a successful graduate.
For more detailed outlines of curriculum and course contents, go to Program details in Program Index.

Plan for Success

Over the past years, discussions with and surveys of the unsuccessful students in the program have identified the following causes for failure:
  • Lack of familiarity with the field. Many applicants have no realistic idea of what they will be involved in as graduates.
  • Lack of ability in basic sciences, mathematics and the English language. Some applicants are not able to handle the mathematics and reading assignments. In addition, many students are not inclined toward scientific topics.
  • Homesickness may be a problem as a large portion of the V.T. student body comes from outside of the immediate area. This appears to present difficulties to people who in many cases are away from home for the first time.
  • Students who have not taken higher level (university, university/college) courses in secondary school tend to have more difficulty with the program.
To provide applicants with a realistic view of the program skills to be acquired and the profession we recommend that they:
  • Visit a few veterinary hospitals and acquire some work experience in at least one of the hospitals;
  • Converse with graduate V.T.s and Veterinarians;
  • Contact the program coordinator, registrar’s office, or counseling services to answer any questions.
It should be noted that due to the specialized nature of courses within the V.T. program, students from other health or bio-science areas are rarely granted credit for courses taken elsewhere. Similarly students who transfer to other programs from the V.T. program should not expect transfer credit of advanced standing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the College have an animal clinic?
Yes. There is a fully equipped modern teaching hospital as well as a kennel area and a laboratory animal facility for rats, rabbits and mice. The teaching hospital is fully accredited by the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (meeting the standards for veterinary hospitals in Ontario).

Where do the animals in the clinic come from?
Most are animals from a local pound. These are used for practicing the administration of medications, preparing for surgery, radiography and other clinical procedures. The laboratory animals are bought from a licensed supplier. The animals are used for teaching purposes only. No animal experimentation is conducted at St. Clair College. All guidelines and policies of the Canadian Council on Animal Care are adhered to in the program.

May V.T. students bring in their own animals for treatment?
No, we do not service any animals from outside the College. We maintain our own animal colony.

Who looks after the animals?
Students in the V.T. program are assigned to the care of animals and cleaning of the facilities. Much of these animal care duties are to be performed outside of regular class hours. This includes, for example, in the 1st semester two (2) separate weeks of kennel duty with duties before and after class. In some semesters, weekend duties are assigned.

May animals be adopted from St. Clair College?
The students and staff operate a highly successful private adoption program for suitable animals from our colony.

Who does surgery if it is necessary?
The Veterinarians on staff do all of the surgery, with students preparing and assisting.

When do V.T. students get training in handling animals and giving medication, taking X-rays, etc.?
In semester 2, four (4) hours per week and in semester 3 and 4, eight (8) hours per week are spent in our College clinical facilities. 2nd year students spend a minimum of 12 days in local veterinary hospitals. A 2 week externship placement in an animal facility also occurs in the 4th semester. In addition, much of the classroom work deals with clinical topics.

What sort of things do the students learn to do for the animals?
Students learn theory and techniques related to giving medications by mouth and by injection; collecting blood samples; inducing anesthesia and monitoring patients and preparing patients for surgery; taking radiographs (X-rays); dentistry; and many other procedures. Most of the procedures which nurses and other paramedical persons do for people are conducted by Veterinary Technicians.

What else do we learn in 2 years?
The greatest other single area of importance is the laboratory. Students have to now perform of the common laboratory tests on blood and serum. Also, there is microbiology, parasitology, urinalysis, and sample preparation.

Is prior experience in a veterinary hospital necessary?
It is very valuable to you, the student, to have been working in a veterinary hospital to make sure that this is really what you want and to give a perspective to formal courses. Every year we have students who leave us because they find that this program really is not what they thought it would be. Students who have had experience in a veterinary hospital generally seem better able to make the decision to enter the V.T. program.
With or without prior experience, you are welcome to visit the College and speak with the faculty or counselors before applying or when you are accepted. Visits can be arranged by contacting the Recruitment Department at (519) 972-2727, ext. 2760.

How many students are admitted to the program?
In recent years about 60 students have been selected each year from over 500 applicants.

Do students get work experience in private veterinary hospitals as part of their training?
Yes. There is a minimum of 10-12 full days required in local hospitals, plus a 2 week externship as well as eight (8) hours per week in our teaching hospital in the 2nd year.

What about room and board for out of town students?
Many of our students come from outside of Essex County. The biggest problem is finding a room or apartment which has easy access to the College. It is suggested that you visit Windsor in the summer to arrange accommodation. For further housing information, please contact the Housing Office at (519) 972-2720.
St. Clair College also now has a Residence on campus (call 519-966-1601) or check our website under Student Services and Campus Life for both Housing and Residence Information.

What sort of athletic opportunities does the College have to offer?
St. Clair College has an excellent gymnasium, an indoor pool and various intramural and varsity sports programs.

Is the V.T. program at St. Clair College accredited?
St. Clair’s program is fully accredited by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). This accreditation may be recognized in some American States as well. The program is also accredited the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT) and Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC).

What are my prospects of employment after I leave?
Excellent. Graduates readily find employment provided they are seriously seeking it and are not opposed to relocation.

Alternative Careers?
Lately, we are seeing more and more graduate V.T.s entering fields other than veterinary practice. The Federal and Provincial governments are both looking to V.T.s for positions in inspection and enforcement of regulations. University and hospital research laboratories are hiring V.T.s. Often this is in preference to people with university degrees. Pharmaceutical companies are finding positions for graduates in research, testing and sales.
One reason for pointing out some of these other career opportunities is to alert you at an early stage to the possibilities outside veterinary practices. These alternative positions generally pay much better than practice and deserve your consideration.

What salary can I expect upon graduation?
Predicting salaries 2 or 3 years from now is difficult. Salaries to date have varied from fair to very good. The recent starting salary for R.V.T.s in a veterinary practice has been $29,000 – $39,000.00 per annum. Typically universities, research institutions and humane societies start graduates above $40,000.00. See OAVT website www.oavt.org for current information.

Will the V.T. diploma assist my entrance into a veterinary college?
While the experience with animals may count for something with a selection committee, there is apparently no policy at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph which favors the V.T. graduate. A person wishing to apply for veterinary medicine should contact the University of Guelph.

How do I become a Registered Veterinary Technician?
Upon successfully graduating from St. Clair College, you may write a registration examination. Arrangements are made through the OAVT to write the North American wide Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). When you pass the registration exam, you are a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT). There is a fee for this examination. St. Clair College graduates have done extremely well on this examination.

How can I contact the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians for more information?
The OAVT is the registering body for Veterinary Technicians in Ontario. Graduates of St. Clair’s program are eligible to write their registration examination. Check their website at www.oavt.org

The OAVT will answer your inquiries if you write to:
OAVT
P.O. Box 833
Guelph, Ontario
N1H 6L8
Phone: 1-800-675-1859
Fax: 519-836-3638
Email:
oavt@oavt.org

Does the St. Clair College program have much to do with horses and other farm animals?
There are livestock components in several courses (e.g. parasitology) as well as livestock course in the 2nd year. Since we do not house livestock at the College, practical experience is gained through field trips. Students with an interest in large animals are encouraged to seek experience in this field.

Does the St. Clair College program have a course dealing with zoo animals or wildlife?
In the 2nd year, we have a caged bird and exotic pet care course. The students become familiar with caged birds, ferrets, reptiles and fish.

Can I work in other provinces with a St. Clair College diploma?
V.T. graduates from St. Clair College have worked in every province. Obtaining RVT status in Ontario will allow you to work in any province without having to write another provincial examination.

What about working in the United States?
It is difficult to obtain a work visa. However, several graduates in the past have obtained visas and are working in Michigan and other States. Many States do have registration, licensing or certification exams (most use the VTNE).

Who do I contact if I need more information?
Contact the program Coordinator if your inquiry is about the program generally, or the Admission Office if your question is about your application. Please write, call, e-mail or fax us if you need any information. Don’t wait until the first week of school.