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How to Enroll In the Best Vet Technician Degree Program Near Anchorage Alaska

Anchorage Alaska veterinary tech calming anxious dogFulfilling your lifelong goal of working with and caring for pets by enrolling in a veterinary technician school near Anchorage AK might at first feel like a challenging task. After all, you must find and enroll in a program that will furnish the necessary training to ensure that you can be successful as a vet tech. But just how do you tackle analyzing and contrasting schools so that you can make the ideal choice? Many future students launch their due diligence process by searching for schools that are close to their homes. Once they have found some area colleges, they find out which ones have the most affordable tuition and focus on those. Although cost and location are important factors when assessing vet technician programs, they are not the only critical ones when making your evaluations. Qualifiers such as accreditation and internship programs should be evaluated also. The point is that there are questions you need to be asking the veterinary technician schools you are looking at before you make an ultimate decision. We have presented several in this article to help get you started, but before we review them we'll talk about the various duties of vet techs and the training options available.

Veterinary Assistants, Technicians and Technologists

Anchorage Alaska veterinary technician checking kittens

One of the initial decisions that you will have to make is if you wish to train as a vet technician, assistant or technologist. Part of your decision might be based on the amount of time and money that you have to commit to your education, but the primary factor will most likely be which specialization appeals to you the most. What techs and assistants have in common is that they all work under the direct supervision of a practicing and licensed veterinarian. And although there are many jobs that they can perform within the Anchorage AK veterinary clinic or hospital, they can't prescribe drugs, diagnose conditions, or perform surgical procedures. In those areas they can only provide assistance to a licensed vet. There are technologists and technicians that work outside of the typical veterinarian practice, for instance for animal shelters, zoos or police departments. Let's take a look at the responsibilities and education requirements for each specialty.

  • Vet Assistants in most instances will have gone through a formal training program, either as an apprentice or intern in a vet clinic or hospital, or by completing a certificate program at a community college or trade school. As the name implies, their job function is to assist the veterinarians and vet techs in the completion of their duties. Usually they are not involved with more complicated activities, for instance assisting with surgical procedures. Some of their regular functions may include working at the front desk, preparing and cleaning examination rooms and equipment, or controlling animals during examinations.
  • Vet Technicians go through more extensive training compared to assistants and normally earn a two 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 fundamental job function is to assist vets with diagnosing and treating animal patients. Where they vary from veterinary assistants is that they are involved in more involved tasks, for instance assisting with surgeries or providing medicine. All states currently mandate that vet technicians pass a credentialing examination for either licensing, registration or certification.
  • Vet Technologists are comparable to veterinary technicians and for the most part perform the same job functions. They are required to obtain a Bachelor's Degree in veterinary technology, which typically requires four years to complete. Therefore the only real difference between a vet technologist and a technician is the technologist's more advanced level of education. But with an advanced degree comes more job opportunities, higher salaries and potential management positions. They are also mandated to pass a credentialing examination for either licensing, registration or certification.

Vet techs and technologists can specialize in areas such as anesthesia, internal medicine or urgent care. Many may acquire certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) to work in  Anchorage AK labs or research facilities also.

Online Vet Tech Schools Offered

Anchorage Alaska dog wearing surgical coneAn option that might make sense for those with a hectic lifestyle or who are working full-time while going to vet school is to enroll in an online program. Since the classes are offered through the internet, students can attend on their own timetable wherever a computer is accessible. The syllabus is taught using various methods, including slide shows, videos and live streaming webinars. And since the majority of vet tech and technologist degrees require clinical training, that segment can normally be completed as an internship or work study program at a local Anchorage AK veterinarian clinic or hospital. Distance learning, as it is also called, may in many instances lower the cost of your education. Tuition and ancillary expenses, such as for traveling and study materials, may be lower compared to more standard classroom programs. Just make certain that the online school that you choose is accredited, either by the AVMA or another nationally certified accrediting organization. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything is furnished for a complete education. So if you are disciplined enough to learn in this more self-reliant mode, an online vet tech program may be the perfect option for you.

Things to Ask Veterinary Technician Programs

By now you should have decided on which veterinarian degree that you would like to attain, and if you prefer to study online or attend a program on campus. Since there are a large number of vet community colleges, vocational and technical schools in the Anchorage AK area as well as across the Country, you must ask some relevant questions in order to fine tune your list of options. As we discussed in our introduction, many prospective students start by prioritizing location and tuition expense. But we have already pointed out other important qualifiers, which include internship programs and accreditation. And naturally you need to enroll in a program that offers the degree and specialty that you want to earn. These and other qualifications are covered in the checklist of questions that you need to ask the vet tech colleges that you are looking at.

Is the Veterinary College Accredited?  It's important that you confirm that the veterinary technician program you choose is accredited by a regional or national accrediting agency. As earlier mentioned, among the most highly respected is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Trade schools and colleges that are accredited by the AVMA have gone through an extensive review process that verifies you will receive a quality education. Also, accreditation is important if you are requesting a student loan or financial assistance, since numerous programs are not available for non-accredited schools. Last, having a certificate or degree from an accredited program is in many cases a prerequisite for employment for a number of Anchorage AK area vet practices and hospitals.

What is the College's Reputation?  The veterinary college or vocational school and program you choose should have an outstanding reputation within the veterinary community. You can start your due diligence by asking the schools you are reviewing for endorsements from the employers in their job placement network. Other tips include looking on internet school rating websites and contacting the school's accrediting agencies as well. You can ask the Alaska school licensing department if there have been any complaints or violations involving your targeted schools. As a final recommendation, call some Anchorage AK veterinarians that you may wish to work for after you go through your training. Find out what they think about your school selections. They might even recommend one or more colleges not on your list.

Are Internships Offered?  The best means to get clinical hands on training as a vet tech is to work in a medical environment. Ask if the programs you are considering have internship programs arranged with Anchorage AK veterinarians, vet clinics or hospitals. Most veterinary medicine programs mandate clinical training and many furnish it by way of internships. Not only will the experience be valuable regarding the clinical training, but an internship can also help develop connections in the local veterinarian community and assist in the search for employment after graduation.

Is there a Job Placement Program?  Finding a job after graduating from a vet tech school can be difficult without the help of a job placement program. To begin with, find out what the graduation rates are for the schools you are reviewing. A lower rate could suggest that the teachers were ineffective at teaching the curriculum or that a number of students were disappointed with the program and quit. Next, verify that the schools have a job placement program and find out what their placement rates are. A high placement rate may indicate that the college has an excellent reputation within the Anchorage AK vet community and has a substantial network of contacts for student placements. A low rate could indicate that the training is not highly thought of by employers or that the job placement program is ineffective at placing students.

How Big are the Classes?  If the classes are bigger, you may get little or no individualized instruction from the teachers. Solicit from the Anchorage AK schools you are looking at what their classroom teacher to student ratios are. You may also decide to sit in on some classes (if practical) to monitor the interaction between students and teachers. Ask for evaluations from students relating to the quality of instruction. Also, talk with the teachers and determine what their qualifications are as well as their methods of teaching.

Where is the School Located?  Yes, we previously covered location, but there are a couple of more points to consider on the subject. If you are going to drive to your vet tech classes from your Anchorage AK home, you need to confirm that the driving time is compatible with 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 college is located in or close by a larger city. In addition, if you do decide to enroll in a school in another state or even outside of your County of residence, there may be increased tuition charges particularly for community and state colleges. Of course taking online classes might be an option that will provide you with more flexibility and decrease the need for travel.

Is the Class Schedule Flexible?  And last, it's important that you determine if the veterinary programs you are exploring offer class times flexible enough to fit your schedule. For example, a number of students continue to work full time and can only attend classes on the weekends or in the evenings near Anchorage AK. Some might only be able to attend classes in the morning or in the afternoon. Confirm that the class times you require are offered prior to enrolling. In addition, find out if you can make-up classes that you might miss due to sickness, work or family responsibilities. You may find that an online college is the ideal solution to fit your veterinary training into your busy life.

Find Out More About Anchorage Veterinary Tech Schools Online

Choose the Best Anchorage Veterinary Technologist School

Picking the right veterinary technician school is a critical first step to starting a fulfilling career delivering care and treatment for animals. Students thinking about vet tech schools must make their determination based on several key issues. Veterinary technicians and technologists work in vet clinics, animal hospitals and animal shelters. They typically handle administrative tasks and support the veterinarian with the animal patients when needed. As we have discussed, it's essential that you decide on a veterinary medicine program that is both accredited and has an excellent reputation within the profession. This goes for online vet tech colleges as well. By asking the questions provided in our checklist for evaluating schools, you will be able to narrow down your alternatives so that you can make your final choice. And by selecting the right program, you can accomplish your goal of becoming a veterinary technician in Anchorage Alaska.


 

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