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Whats the best way to go about becoming a vet assistant?

I'm a college graduate, currently working as a paraprofessional and I'm trying to get into the animal care field.

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James Constantine’s Answer

Dear Nacia,

Choosing to become a Veterinary Assistant is a wonderful decision, especially for those who love animals and have a desire to work in the veterinary field. Here are some actionable steps to guide you on this path:

Education and Training: While not all regions demand formal education or certification for Veterinary Assistants, acquiring relevant training can boost your chances of employment and career progression. Consider enrolling in a Veterinary Assistant program at a local community college, technical institute, or an online school. These programs usually take around 9-12 months to finish, covering subjects like animal anatomy, veterinary nursing, lab procedures, and animal behavior. Some may even offer externship opportunities for hands-on experience in a veterinary clinic or hospital.

Certification: Even though it's not required in every state, gaining certification from a reputable organization like the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) can enhance your appeal to potential employers. NAVTA provides two certifications for Veterinary Assistants: Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) and Certified Veterinary Assistant (CVA). To get certified, you'll need to fulfill certain educational prerequisites and pass a competency test.

Experience: It's vital to gain practical experience through internships, voluntary work, or entry-level jobs in veterinary clinics or hospitals. This not only helps you build your skills and network within the industry but also helps you confirm if a Veterinary Assistant is the right career for you.

Networking: Establishing connections with veterinarians, technicians, and other professionals in the veterinary field can open doors to job opportunities and enriching learning experiences. Attend local veterinary conferences, become a member of professional groups like the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and network with industry peers on social media platforms such as LinkedIn.

Continuing Education: Keeping abreast of the latest developments in veterinary medicine is key to maintaining your skills and knowledge as a Veterinary Assistant. Think about attending workshops, seminars, or webinars hosted by professional bodies or employers to broaden your knowledge and boost your resume.

Soft Skills: Cultivating strong communication abilities, empathy for animals and their owners, attention to detail, adaptability, and problem-solving skills are crucial for success as a Veterinary Assistant. These skills will enable you to build robust relationships with clients and colleagues, ensuring animals receive top-notch care during their clinic or hospital visits.

May God bless you on this journey!
JC.
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Hannah’s Answer

Try applying for boarding/bathing/daycare positions first to get your foot in the door, eventually work your way up to an assistant position. It also helps if these boarding facilities are connected to a veterinary hospital.
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Olivia’s Answer

Hey Nacia,

I'd recommend getting an internship or shadowing a veterinary clinic, shelter, boarding facility etc. to explore if this truly is a field you want to pursue as well as see where your interests lies. You can also work at one of these animal care facilities to get hands on experience.

What I did was begin working at a local small/large animal vet clinic as a boarding assistant in their boarding facility. I walked dogs, fed the dogs and cats, provided medications. After showing my growth and passion in this position, I transitioned to a veterinary assistant. Now, I directly work with veterinarians and certified veterinary technicians. I assist with appointments, restraining for blood draws, radiographs, writing medical notes etc.

If you want to become a certified technician (one step above assistant, one step below veterinarian), that requires a veterinary technology degree at an AVMA accredited program and taking an exam to become certified. I believe this is usually a 6 year program. A vet tech helps with surgery, checking vitals, drawing blood, handling controlled medications, as well as doing what an assistant does.

So, my best advice is to start out small and work your way up as you become more knowledgeable and confident in this field.

Best of luck in pursuing your dreams!
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Joanna’s Answer

Dear Nacia,

Embarking on a career with animals is an incredibly fulfilling journey. While I'm not based in New York and can't provide you with specific local advice, as far as I am aware, certification isn't mandatory in NYC. However, obtaining one could definitely boost your resume and enhance your skills.

There's a variety of both in-person and online programs available that can help you become a certified veterinary assistant. These programs are reasonably priced and within a few months, you'll be equipped with the knowledge and preparation needed.

I'd also encourage you to engage in self-learning. Your local library is likely to have resources designed for non-professionals, and you might be able to participate in specialized courses and interact with professionals in the field.

Gaining hands-on experience is also a way to start. I'd recommend reaching out to local Animal Centers, Shelters, and Veterinary Clinics to explore opportunities for volunteering, internships, or other learning experiences. If there's a specific group of animals you're particularly passionate about, seek out to practices that specialize in those species.

This field welcomes both enthusiastic newcomers and experienced professionals. The key, I believe, is to maintain an open mind, never make assumptions at first glance, and approach everything and everyone with humility, curiosity, and compassion.

Every case will be unique, and you'll undoubtedly face challenges and emotionally draining situations. It's truly crucial to remember to look after your own physical and mental wellbeing at all times. Despite the challenges, the joy and satisfaction that comes from helping those who can't help themselves make it all worthwhile.

I hope you gather lots of experience and experience true joy in your role every single day!
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Kasey’s Answer

Hello, I recommend exploring a Certified Vet Technician program. This program typically spans two years and offers a higher level of expertise than an animal care technician role. Plus, it opens up more avenues for career advancement.
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