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Veterinary program at JCTC receives NAVTA endorsement

The Jessamine County Career and Technology Center Veterinary Assisting Program was recently endorsed by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America allowing students who complete the course the opportunity to take a certification exam offering them a competitive advantage when applying for a job after they graduate.

“The certificate that is endorsed by NAVTA provides students with the leg up that they need when applying to work in the animal science or veterinary science industries,” said Ashley Wagoner, a teacher at JCTC.

“In order to sit for the certification exam at the end of the pathway, students must successfully complete 100 percent of the 130 skills assessments. This certification is not required by law in order to be employed as a veterinary assistant, but rather demonstrates to employers that Jessamine County veterinary assisting students are ready for the workforce and have successfully completed studies that are infused with hands-on skills assessments.”

The program is located at JCTC and consists of students completing a three-year course which covers various topics from animal handling and restraint to assisting a veterinarian with necropsy procedures.

Wagoner said students are immersed in the curriculum making them eligible to participate in real world experiences. Students learn though partnerships with the Jessamine County Animal Shelter and the Trap Neuter and Release programs, she said. Students also have the ability to learn through hands-on experiences as they study from veterinarians and licensed veterinarian technicians in settings which include classroom, lab and surgery observations.

“We introduced the pathway during the 2015-2016 school year and we have seen an increase in the amount of applicants since we first introduced it,” Wagoner said. “Last year we graduated seven students from the program and this year we are on track to graduate and certify 18 additional students. This program is essential to the county because it serves an increasing number of students. There is a list of students who are entertaining the idea that they would like to be veterinarians and this program can help guide them toward that goal or into another animal science related career including Licensed Veterinary Technicians, LVT. We have a memorandum of agreement through Morehead State’s Veterinary Technician program acknowledging the hours that our students spend in our classes as time worked as a partial requirement for their application into the program.”

Madalyn Gannon, a junior at East Jessamine High School, said she enjoys the program because of the hands-on activities.

“We get to do (activities) like when we went to the Trap Neuter Release Program and helped recover the cats who had been either spayed or neutered,” Gannon said.

“I have benefited from this class so much. I now know how to take an animal’s temperature, pulse, and respiration in addition to being able to conduct a basic physical exam on an animal and I think that is really cool to have the opportunity (to do) in high school.”

Molly Wilson, a junior at West Jessamine High School, said she enjoys the fact the program is very hands-on rather than reading a book.

“It gives us career-related opportunities through those activities and I learn so much better that way,” Wilson said. “It also puts all students in touch with other organizations in the community that we can end up working with.”

Wagoner said the program at JCTC is constantly changing and looking for ways to increase not only lesson rigor but relevance as well.

“We are always looking for new ways to incorporate what the students are learning in the classroom to real-life situations and experiences in the community,” Wagoner said.

“We are currently working on creating a school-based enterprise where students who have completed the grooming portion of vet two can work after hours at the school to groom dogs and earn some money. We would like to see the program continue to thrive and provide real-world opportunities to students, eventually expanding into internships with veterinarians, groomers and other animal-related careers.”