Veterinary Assistance class added to further educate students about animals


Staff Photo by Cameron Osiecki

Future Veterinary assistance students practice their skills on Chinchillas.

Will Clark, Sports Editor

Many students dream of being a veterinarian as a child but many times the dream never comes to fruition. Kelly Durdock, of Agriculture Department, has made it a goal of hers to give students hands on experience that could help them pursue their dream in a more efficient way.

“The setup will be a few days in class with me and a few days with an actual veterinarian,” said Durdock. “The whole class sets them up to be a veterinary assistant.”

The class is very specific in preparing students to be a Veterinary Assistant, not to be confused with a Veterinary Technician.

“There is a difference between a Veterinary Assistant and a Veterinary Technician,” said Durdock. “A Veterinary Technician is basically like a registered nurse, and a Veterinary Assistant is kind of like a secretary at a hospital. You still have to be certified to be an assistant, but you get to do many of the same basic things as a technician.”

One of the main reasons this class was created is because of the price of veterinary school.

“I wanted to add this class onto the existing animal science program because a lot of the kids want to be veterinarians,” said Durdock. “The problem is, coming out of high school a lot of students can’t afford Veterinary School in college right away. This course gives students a pathway to still work with animals in a way that is in between basic animal science and Veterinary School in college.”

Durdock’s class is exclusive, with the prerequisites being Animal Science I and II.

“My Animal Science II class this semester has 17 kids, and 12 of those are seniors,” said Durdock. “That leaves 5 kids eligible next year and they are all taking the Veterinary Assistance course.”

Junior Kelsey Brown is excited to use her Animal Science training in Veterinary Assistance next year.

“Basically I’ve been learning about the anatomy of small animals and their different characteristics,” said Brown. “After learning that, I filled out an application and got some teacher recommendations for the Veterinary Assistance class where I want to use my Animal Science knowledge hands on with actual Veterinarians.”

Junior Brendan Bethea agrees that working with someone who has professional experience would help further educate students.

“I want that experience working with the Vet to explore a possible career,” said Bethea. “This experience will help me determine if I want to go to college to study this field.”

Durdock emphasized that a small class size is key for the students to get the most out of the course and learn from experience.

“The most amount of kids that can be in this class is 10,” said Durdock. “Because it is such a hands on course, I can’t expect 20 kids to be able to go out there and visit animals on site with less supervision. I have to make it smaller to make it safer for the students and the animals.”

Not only are the students taking the Veterinary Assistance class to learn skills needed to potentially advance their careers in the field, they are preparing for an annual competition between high schools.

“We have a veterinary competition that the kids do each year,” said Durdock. “They have to identify different breeds of animals, administer different shots, and anything else you can think of in the veterinary practice.”

Overall, Durdock just wants students to be able to apply what they learned in Animal Science I and II to real animals.

“The kids that have taken Animal Science I spent most of their time in the classroom,” said Durdock. “The ones who took Animal Science II got a taste of some real life experience. For level three, which is Veterinary Assistance, I want them to be completely hands on with the animals using everything they’ve learned in the classroom.”