Continuing Education for Veterinary Technicians
March 21, 2015
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Graduating from a veterinary technology program is just the first step in a lifelong career. In many states, credentialed veterinary technicians must also complete a certain number of continuing education hours per renewal cycle. Check with your state credentialing agency to see how many hours you need. After that, explore the various options for completing these continuing education requirements.
There are several advantages to traditional, in-person training. This type of learning offers hands-on guidance, networking opportunities and an interactive experience many people find is the most helpful when learning a new skill. Classes are held throughout the United States and internationally and cover all types of animals, from armadillos to zebras. The downside to these classes is that the one you want to take might not be located near you, meaning you might incur travel costs in addition to laboratory and registration fees.
Most people attend in-person training sessions at local and regional workshops sponsored by their local veterinary groups, drug companies or food producers. Training is also sometimes offered by sales representatives at clinics. If you're interested in this type of continuing education, you might want to start your search with the American Veterinary Medical Association Convention, American Animal Hospital Association Conference and North American Veterinary Community Conference.
One of the best things about technology is that students can now learn skills right at home or while traveling via a cell phone, tablet or laptop. Some courses that used to only be available in certain areas are now broadcast worldwide through live conversations, and even group conversations can now be held through webcams.
The online classroom often puts you in charge of your own learning experience, which could be a potential downside. If a deadline is approaching or passes, there might be no one to remind you. Also, the lack of hands-on work could leave you behind on the fine details of more complicated subjects. Certain skills, such as dental prophylaxis, phlebotomy and surgical assisting, aren't suited to this type of learning style. If they're taught online, courses usually require you to find a mentor to teach you and sign off on the skills you acquire.
Many places such as the Veterinary Support Personnel Network, VetMedTeam and Vetlearn offer online courses. Veterinary-related companies such as IDEXX, Hill's and Novartis can also offer online continuing education courses.
Considerations When Choosing a Course
The following are some things to keep in mind when choosing which courses you want to take:
- Always look for Registry of Approved Continuing Education certifications. If the course has been approved by this agency, your state's certification agency likely will accept it.
- What is the course's cancellation policy? Circumstances may arise that could prevent you from completing it, or you might decide you don't like it. If you want to get your money back, be sure to read the fine print.
- Do you have time for this course? Some classes are more time-intensive than others, and almost all of them have deadlines. Make sure you can work it into your current and future schedule. Committing yourself to certain times via a planner is a great way to make sure you can get it done.
Though finding the perfect continuing education course can take time and some steps, adding to your arsenal of knowledge and certifications can benefit your veterinary career.
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