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Veterinary Assistant program available to high school students


Veterinary science is a career path that piques the interest of many young, animal enthusiasts. Despite this interest, there is expected to be an estimated 15,000 veterinarian shortage for U.S. animals by 2030, with demands for rural, large animal veterinarians on the rise. Many who become interested in veterinary science begin planning for their future career in high school, and now, students ages 12 and up may participate in a Veterinary Science Certificate Program with Texas A&M

4-H has offered a veterinary science program in most states for years, but a new curriculum will allow them to work at their own pace, complete coursework, and apprenticeships, and earn a Veterinary Assistant (VA) certificate. High school students might also be able to receive career and technology or science course credit. 

Image courtesy of 135pixels, Shutterstock

There are three different career tracks as part of the self-study program:

  • Clinical: companion, livestock, and exotic animal health. Students following this track are eligible to earn the clinical veterinary assistant (VA) certificate and program completion certificate.
  • One Health: animal, human, and environmental health. Students following this track are eligible to earn the One Health veterinary assistant certificate and a program completion certificate.
  • Laboratory: animal health research and diagnostics. Students following this track are eligible to earn the Laboratory veterinary assistant certificate and a program completion certificate

In total, there are 200 hours of curriculum and 300 hands-on hours in an apprenticeship, for a total of 500 hours in the program. Students are required to complete 100 lessons in their chosen career track. Students following the clinical track will use the NAVTA Veterinary Assistant Essential Skills List to track required skills. These are national standards developed and recommended by Agrilife Extension Veterinary Medicine.

There will also be an overnight summer camp series at universities around Texas and in partnership with New Mexico State University in Las Cruces this summer. Overnight camps are open to students in the 8th grade and up. Applications will open on January 15, 2023. 

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