With a turn of the tassel, 13 students recently became the first class of graduates in the Veterinary Technician program at Fox Valley Technical College.
Graduates Faith Behnke and Kelsey Upchurch knew they were entering an in-demand field when they enrolled in the program. However, like many other things, the pandemic changed the job outlook. In this case, it was for the better.
“With the pandemic, everyone got a pet,” Kelsey said. “That means everyone needs to take their pet to a vet and clinics are overwhelmed by demand. I knew before the pandemic that vet techs were needed. Now, they are needed more than ever.”
The 65-credit Veterinary Technician program is far more rigorous than many new students might realize. It prepares graduates to perform initial exams, blood draws, place intravenous catheters and assist with surgery for both large and small animals.
“The surgery aspect of this program was challenging,” Faith said. “The blood draw was difficult and this was something I had to overcome. I had to leave the room the first day of surgical nursing class. It was an adjustment but I did it.”
Kelsey did some job shadowing and worked as a veterinary assistant at an equine clinic before starting school. She felt prepared to handle the surgical aspect of the program and recommends interested students do the same.
“I think prospective students should shadow a few days in a clinic before they apply,” Kelsey said. “They need to be aware of all aspects of the job. We can perform just about every task in a veterinary clinic except diagnose, prescribe medication and perform surgeries.”
Fox Valley Tech prides itself on giving students the hands-on training they need to be successful. Faith and Kelsey couldn’t agree more.
“The hands-on training is such a big part of our education,” Faith said. “I can learn from textbooks and power point presentations, but you can’t take a heartbeat with a book. We were examining cats and dogs and going out to the farm. We worked with live animals.”
“The smaller class size was also important to me,” Kelsey added. “I thrive on a small student-to-teacher ratio. I like to ask questions and get to know my teachers. I’ve had that communication at FVTC, instead of just being a number.”
With a fresh perspective from the working world, we asked Faith and Kelsey to give pet owners a few tips:
Faith: brush your pet daily. Pets enjoy it because it feels like a massage, and it can play a role in their behavior. If pets don’t feel pretty, it can play a role in their behavior.
Kelsey: take preventative measures year-round. Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean ticks and mosquitos are not a concern. Protecting your pet’s health shouldn’t be seen as a seasonal thing.
Both: treat your pet’s appointment like you’d treat an appointment for yourself. Be on time; if it’s important to be on time when you go to the doctor, it should be equally important when you take your pet to the veterinary clinic.