A unique online course project at Texas A & M University (TAMU) has provided more than 5,000 rural schoolkids in Texas with a peek into a possible future career as a veterinarian assistant.
The online courses featured in “Preparatory Training for the Veterinary Assistant,” were developed by Dr. Floron "Buddy" Faries, a Texas AgriLife Extension veterinarian, to meet the demand in Texas for high school training online for veterinary assistants.According to Faries, the concept of early field training in animal care and vet science is not new but the need for a more portable training curriculum has been fueled by soaring job possibilities in homeland security, laboratory technology and public health. Faries also explains how veterinary science job growth is tied to government regulatory matters that stem from homeland security concerns over global public health and disease in agriculture.
Online program development funds were granted to TAMU by the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense and the Homeland Security Science and Technology Center of Excellence.
The new courses are designed to prep students as young as 8 years-old for a career as a veterinary assistant. The early coursework can also be used for career exploration as a veterinary technician or for a college major in veterinarian science.
The online course sequence has already been offered to 5,000 kids across 100 Texas counties via 4-H, the youth development arm of the Agriculture Extension. High school agriculture instructors are also using the program, which has been approved for public school use by the Texas Education Agency.
“Young people often have an interest in veterinary medicine, so we want to satisfy that interest early,” said Faries. “And the other side of this is that job opportunities in this field continue to grow.”
The curriculum features 100 lessons: 75 core lessons in veterinary science with 25 lessons in clinical science. TAMU has slated the development of fifty additional lessons to cover topics such as the interface between human and animal health.
TAMU is currently developing a fee-based version of the online courses for high school graduates who aspire to a career as a veterinary assistant and those who wish to receive reliable field training under the supervision of a licensed vet.
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