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MSU focuses on vet techs, new degree
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Veterinarians are the doctors of the animal world, and certified veterinary technicians are the “nurses” who are trained and certified to care for patients and provide much of the medical care the animals receive.
Only veterinarians can legally diagnose, prescribe and perform surgery. Veterinary technicians, commonly called vet techs, can perform all other procedures and tasks completed in veterinary practice. Mississippi State University will soon offer a new degree program to train future vet techs for this important work.
MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine has vet techs who aid in all aspects of small- and large-animal care. Oct. 11-17 has been set aside as National Veterinary Technician Week. While the national observance lasts one week, MSU’s veterinarians want to express appreciation for their daily contribution to the success of the mission of the college.
Dr. Ron McLaughlin, head of CVM’s Department of Clinical Sciences, said veterinary technicians are vital to the college’s program in many ways.
“They are essential to our ability to provide compassionate, state-of-the-art veterinary care to our patients, and to providing timely and efficient service to our clients and referring veterinarians,” McLaughlin said. “They also are an indispensable resource of experience and knowledge necessary for the training of veterinary students and technology students.”
McLaughlin said vet techs exhibit a combination of hard work, dedication to patients, compassion for animals and their owners, and effectiveness as teachers that is critical to the ability of CVM to complete its mission each day.
“Their love for animals allows them to provide this care with dedication and compassion, and their vast knowledge and experience contributes significantly to the training of future veterinarians and technicians,” McLaughlin said.
In 2012, the university will confer bachelor’s degrees to the first graduates in veterinary medical technology.
Dr. Mikell Davis is director of CVM’s Veterinary Medical Technology Program. He said prospective students are completing prerequisite courses to qualify them to apply for the 24 competitive slots of the junior year of the curriculum. The first junior class will begin degree classes when the program begins next fall. Applications are available online at http://www.cvm.msstate.edu.
“There are 20 accredited bachelor degree programs in the United States, and only two are at colleges of veterinary medicine. Michigan State and Purdue have bachelor’s degree programs, and Mississippi State’s will be the third at a veterinary college,” Davis said.
Students in the program will complete clinical rotations with veterinary students.
“It is advantageous for the technology students to experience clinical medicine alongside the veterinary students,” Davis said.
Students who complete the 124-hour degree program will become veterinary technologists. Graduates must pass the National Certified Veterinary Technician Exam to become certified veterinary technicians.
Career options for certified veterinary technicians include private veterinary practices, teaching, military service, humane societies, industry, biomedical research, diagnostic laboratories, zoo and wildlife facilities, and herd health management. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists this career as No. 4 for employment potential through 2016.
Terri Snead is a veterinary technician at MSU working in the Department of Pathobiology and Population Medicine, but she previously worked in a private practice in Hattiesburg. She said the job is enjoyable because pet owners place a lot of trust in vet techs and allow them to share in the lives of their pets. Being a trusted member of a health-care team also offers job security.
“The veterinary technology field is wide open right now,” Snead said. “Potential students with a passion for animals have many different career options to consider.”
For more information on MSU’s new Veterinary Medical Technology Program, visit