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How to Pick the Right Vet Technician Degree Program Near Flagstaff Arizona

Flagstaff Arizona veterinary tech calming anxious dogAchieving your long term dream of working with and helping pets by enrolling in a vet tech program near Flagstaff AZ could at first seem like a challenging task. After all, you have to locate and enroll in a school that will furnish the proper training so that you can be successful as a veterinary technician. But just how do you approach evaluating and contrasting programs so that you can make the proper choice? Many aspiring students begin their due diligence process by searching for colleges that are near their homes. After they have located some area colleges, they ascertain which ones have the cheapest tuition and hone in on those. Although location and cost are important factors when assessing vet technician programs, they are not the only significant ones when making your evaluations. Qualifiers such as accreditation and internship programs should be looked into as well. The point is that there are questions you need to be asking the vet tech programs you are considering before you make an ultimate decision. We have provided several within this article to help get you started, but before we review them we'll go over the different roles of veterinary technicians and the training alternatives available.

Vet Assistants, Technicians and Technologists

Flagstaff Arizona veterinary tech examining kittens

One of the first decisions that you will need to make is if you want to train as a vet technician, assistant or technologist. Part of your decision might be predicated 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 the most. What techs and assistants share in common is that they all work under the immediate direction of a practicing and licensed veterinarian. And even though there are many duties that they can carry out within the Flagstaff AZ veterinary practice or hospital, they can't prescribe medicines, diagnose conditions, or carry out surgical procedures. In those areas they may only provide support to a licensed vet. There are technicians and technologists that work away from the typical vet practice, for example for animal shelters, zoos or law enforcement. Let's take a look at the duties and education prerequisites for each specialization.

  • Vet Assistants in most instances will have gone through a structured training program, either as an intern or apprentice in a practice, 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 execution of their duties. Generally they are not associated with more complex undertakings, such as assisting with surgical procedures. Some of their usual responsibilities may include working at the front desk, cleaning and preparing examination rooms and equipment, or handling animals during exams.
  • Vet Technicians go through more extensive training in contrast to assistants and usually obtain 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 basic job function is to assist vets with diagnosing and treating animal patients. Where they differ from vet assistants is that they are included in more complicated functions, for example assisting with surgical procedures or providing medication. All states presently mandate that vet technicians pass a credentialing exam for either registration, certification or licensing.
  • Vet Technologists are comparable to veterinary technicians and for the most part carry out the same work functions. They are required to obtain a Bachelor's Degree in veterinary technology, which usually takes four years to complete. So the main difference between a vet technologist and a technician is the technologist's more advanced level of education. But with an advanced degree comes more career opportunities, higher salaries and possible management positions. They are also mandated to pass a credentialing examination for either certification, registration or licensing.

Veterinary technicians and technologists can specialize in areas such as anesthesia, internal medicine or emergency care. A number may acquire certification from the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) to work in  Flagstaff AZ laboratories or research facilities also.

Veterinary Technician Online Schools Offered

Flagstaff Arizona dog wearing surgical coneAn approach that may be a solution for those with a busy schedule or who are working full time while attending vet school is to enroll in an online training program. Since the classes are made available via the internet, students can study on their own schedule wherever a computer is accessible. The syllabus is taught using several venues, including slide shows, videos and live streaming webinars. And since the majority of vet technician and technologist degrees require clinical training, that segment can typically be fulfilled as an internship or work study program at a local Flagstaff AZ veterinarian practice or hospital. Distance learning, as it is also called, may in many instances reduce the cost of your education. Tuition and ancillary expenditures, such as for travel and study materials, may be lower compared to more traditional classroom programs. Just make certain that the online school that you enroll in is accredited, either by the AVMA or another nationally recognized accrediting agency. With the online courses and the clinical training, everything is included 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 choice for you.

Questions to Ask Veterinary Technician Programs

At this point you should have decided on which veterinarian degree that you want to attain, and if you intend to study online or attend a school on campus. Since there are a large number of vet community colleges, vocational and trade schools in the Flagstaff AZ area as well as across the USA, you must ask some qualifying questions in order to narrow down your list of alternatives. As we mentioned in our introduction, many future students start by concentrating on location and the cost of tuition. But we have already mentioned other significant qualifiers, for example internship programs and accreditation. And of course you want to enroll in a program that offers the degree and specialty that you want to earn. These and other factors are addressed in the list of questions that you should ask the veterinary technician colleges that you are reviewing.

Is the Veterinary College Accredited?  It's important that you verify that the veterinary technician school you select is accredited by a regional or national accrediting organization. As earlier stated, among the most highly respected is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Vocational schools and colleges that are accredited by the AVMA have gone through a rigorous review process that verifies you will get a superior education. Also, accreditation is essential if you are applying for a student loan or financial assistance, since numerous programs are not available for non-accredited colleges. And finally, having a certificate or degree from an accredited program is often a prerequisite for employment for a number of Flagstaff AZ area veterinary practices and hospitals.

What is the Program's Reputation?  The veterinary vocational school or college and program you select must have an exceptional reputation within the vet community. You can initiate your due diligence by asking the schools you are looking at for endorsements from the employers in their job placement network. Other tips include checking with online school ranking websites and contacting the school's accrediting agencies as well. You can ask the Arizona school licensing authority if there have been any grievances or infractions relating to your specific schools. As a final pointer, phone some Flagstaff AZ veterinary clinics that you might wish to work for after you get your training. Find out what they think about your school choices. They may even suggest some colleges not on your list.

Are Internships Offered?  The best means to obtain practical hands on experience as a vet tech is to work in a clinical setting. Find out if the colleges you are considering have internship programs arranged with Flagstaff AZ veterinarians, vet clinics or hospitals. Most veterinary medicine programs require practical training and many provide it through internships. Not only will the experience be invaluable regarding the practical training, but an internship may also help establish connections in the local veterinarian community and aid in the search for employment after graduation.

Is Job Assistance Provided?  Getting a job after graduating from a veterinary technician college can be difficult without the help of a job placement program. To start with, find out what the graduation rates are for the programs you are evaluating. A lower rate might mean that the instructors were unqualified to teach the course of study or that some students were dissatisfied with the program and quit. Next, confirm that the colleges have a job placement program and ask what their placement rates are. A high placement rate may mean that the program has an outstanding reputation within the Flagstaff AZ vet community and has a significant network of contacts for student placements. A lower rate may mean that the training is not well regarded by employers or that the job placement program is ineffective at placing students.

How Big are the Classes?  If the classes are larger sized, you may get little or no personalized instruction from the teachers. Find out from the Flagstaff AZ colleges you are looking at what their classroom student to teacher ratios are. You might also decide to participate in some classes (if practical) to monitor the interaction between students and teachers. Ask for evaluations from students concerning 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 College Located?  Okay, we already covered location, but there are a few more points to make on the topic. If you are going to commute to your vet tech classes from your Flagstaff AZ home, you have to make certain that the driving time fits into your schedule. For instance, driving during the weekend to check out the route won't be the same as the commute during rush hour traffic, particularly if the campus is located in or near a larger city. In addition, if you do decide to enroll in a college in another state or even outside of your County of residence, there may be increased tuition fees particularly for community and state colleges. On the other hand, taking classes online could be an alternative that will give you more flexibility and minimize the necessity for travel.

Is the Class Schedule Flexible?  And finally, it's essential that you ascertain if the veterinary schools you are evaluating offer class times flexible enough to fit your schedule. For instance, a number of students continue to work full time and can only attend classes on the weekends or at night near Flagstaff AZ. Others may only be able to go to class in the morning or in the afternoon. Make sure that the class times you need are available before enrolling. Also, find out if you can make up classes that you might miss because of sickness, work or family issues. You might discover that an online program is the best way to fit your vet education into your busy life.

Learn More About Flagstaff Vet Technologist Schools Online

Choose the Right Flagstaff Vet Technologist College

Choosing the ideal vet tech school is an important first step to starting a rewarding career providing care and treatment for animals. Future students considering vet tech programs must make their selection based on a number of key factors. Veterinary technicians and technologists work in veterinary clinics and hospitals and animal shelters. They usually handle administrative tasks and support the veterinarian with the animal patients as needed. As we have discussed, it's essential that you select a veterinary medicine program that is both accredited and has an excellent reputation within the field. This goes for online vet tech colleges as well. By asking the questions included in our checklist for reviewing schools, you will be able to reduce your alternatives so that you can make your final selection. And by selecting the right program, you can achieve your goal of becoming a vet tech in Flagstaff Arizona.


 

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