Veterinary Technology celebrates 20 years
August 2, 2018
Palo Alto College's Veterinary Technology program is celebrating 20 years of graduates this year, and they hosted a reunion in July 2018, inviting all 315 of the program's alumni to the Veterinary Technology building on campus.
The program began offering classes in 1996 with its first cohort of graduates completing the program in 1998. When it began, the program was held at Brooks City Base, which only had space for 25 students per cohort. The program has grown drastically in numbers and resources since then.
"Twenty years is a pretty big accomplishment for a program to stay successful. We've been successful from the get-go," said Laurie Pawelek, program director for the College's Veterinary Technology program.
In 2007, the program moved to its current facility on the Palo Alto College campus, which allowed the program to expand to 50 students per cohort.
"The facility has a state-of-the-art setup and is pretty similar to what you would see in an animal hospital or clinic, especially a high caliber practice," said Jackie Medina, alumna turned neurology veterinary technician specialist. "Everything is available for students to learn and transition into the workforce smoothly."
Palo Alto College's Veterinary Technology program is only one of five programs in Texas that is fully-accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the only program offered in the Bexar County region. In May 2018, Palo Alto College's program was the only one in Texas to be named to the Top 50 Veterinary Technician Programs for 2018 by TheBestColleges.org.
"We work really hard at giving students the education they need, so that when they graduate they're successful," said Pawelek. "We try to make it so that they can graduate and keep a good job."
Veterinary technicians can conduct clinical procedures on animals under the supervision of a veterinarian in private clinics, laboratories, animal hospitals, zoos, and other facilities. According to Pawelek, most students are hired before they graduate, often through their required internship. Students completing their Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology are eligible to take the state Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT) exam and the Veterinary Technician National Exam to become a credentialed LVT.
Admission to the program is highly competitive and the academic material is challenging, but the challenge sets students up for success.
"Going through this program really puts students a step above anybody who is trying to get into the workforce," said Medina. "I do the hiring at my practice and absolutely look for graduates specifically from this program because I know their knowledge, and I know that they are going to be great employees."