Those interested in working as a veterinarian's assistant typically don't need to complete a formal education program because on-the-job training is provided; however, there are certificate programs available for those who want to gain basic skills before looking for a job in the field.
Veterinarian's assistant certificate programs usually include an introductory course that provides an overview of the profession, including legal and ethical issues, general veterinarian's office skills and basic animal care skills. They also learn about the types of vaccines and medications animals receive and how these are administered. Hands-on experience through a practicum may be included.
Here are some common concepts explored in veterinarian assistant courses:
- Animal behavior
- Pet insurance
- Animal restraint
- Lab procedures and x-rays
- Therapeutic bathing
- Feeding methods
List of Courses
Introduction to Veterinarian's Assistance
This course is taken at the beginning of a veterinarian's assistant program and introduces students to veterinary science as a career. Professional, ethical, business and public health issues that affect veterinary care are explored. Students also learn basic techniques for the handling and care of animals. This includes nutrition, reproduction, sanitation, restraint and medication. Some office protocol is covered, including etiquette and record keeping.
Veterinary Medical Terminology
This course teaches students the language of veterinary medicine and its proper use. The terminology for body systems, diagnostics, pathologies and treatments will be defined. Students examine word structures and word parts and learn to break words into prefixes, suffixes and roots. As a result, students are able to recognize and use a wide variety of medical terms, which facilitates proper communication in a veterinary setting. This course will be taken at the beginning of a veterinarian's assistant program.
Animal Anatomy and Physiology
This course explores the functions and interrelatedness of the major animal body systems. Students become familiar with circulatory, musculoskeletal, respiratory, endocrine and nervous systems. They also explore urinary, reproductive and digestive systems of animals.
Veterinary assistants must be familiar with the drugs and vaccines commonly used to treat animals. This course introduces students to the development and regulation of such medications. It also covers their administration, as well as how to calculate, label and package them. Students will further learn to recognize normal and abnormal responses to medications. This course is typically taken towards the middle or end of a veterinarian's assistant program.
Veterinary Assisting Practicum
Many veterinary assisting programs culminate in a hands-on field experience. Students hone their skills in a veterinary clinic or animal hospital under the supervision of licensed veterinarians or veterinary technicians.