By Nick Stern, Senior Reporter
The Veterinary Technology Program at the South Valley Campus has exceeded the nation’s expectations and raised the bar in veterinary medicine, said Program Director, Bonnie Snyder.
Since the program’s inception in the 2004 fall semester, 98 percent of the graduates from the program have gone on to pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), while the national average pass rate for the exam is only 72 percent, Snyder said.
“It is a whole lot of hard work and I feel pretty proud of our students. A 98 percent VTNE pass rate is very good,” she said.
This high success rate has not only succeeded in giving the college and Vet Tech graduates good numbers, but it has also helped those graduates and future graduates have a better chance of finding employment, because the school has begun to be recognized as setting high standards within the field, she said.
Students who graduate from the program have been hired consistently by veterinarians all across the country because of the growing recognition of prestige in the Vet Tech program and its students, she said.
“We are developing a national reputation that leads to the point where other veterinarians in other states are recognizing that if they graduate from CNM, then they have a pretty good training and I am proud of that,” Snyder said.
The Vet Tech program is a rigorous, 20 month program which is spread over five terms and is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, Snyder said.
Once all 28 classes and the 435 hours of clinical experience are completed, the program itself is complete and those students receive an Associate of Applied Science but are then required to sit for the VTNE, she said.
Passing the VTNE is how graduates become registered Veterinary Technicians and can then practice legally and the only way to be eligible to take the exam is by graduating from an accredited program, like the Vet Tech program, Snyder said.
“So it is kind of a waste of time in New Mexico to get the Associate of Applied Science if you do not intend to sit for the national exam. It is just kind of finishing what you started. I tell students when they get accepted into the program that they have two goals— one is to graduate and the other is to pass the VTNE because if they do not, then they are not registered vet technicians,” Snyder said.
CNM only accepts 26 students every fall into the Veterinary program and there is a pre-screening application that must be filled out and submitted by June 23 each year, along with quite a few other prerequisites, she said.
Applicants must have passed biology and chemistry, both lecture classes and labs, with a B or higher, along with a math course, English course, psychology, and IT 1010.
GPAs must be at least 2.75, and students must have passed the Health Occupations Basic Entrance Test, also known as the H.O.B.E.T, Snyder said.
And even if an applicant does meet all the requirements of the pre-screening process, Snyder advises that it helps tremendously if students have real life experience with animals, because some students in the past have been unable to handle everything that is involved with being a veterinary technician, she said.
“Being a vet tech is not all about holding Fluffy and petting Taffy. They have to be able to handle surgery and blood, cleaning cages and a lot of other things. We have a certain number of students who get into the program and decide they do not want to do it because they did not realize what it was and that is kind of a shame, because they worked very hard to get into the program in the first place,” Snyder said.
Snyder is very proud of the students in the program and the program itself because it has benefited so many people in the community in so many different ways, she said.
She is proud of the program for helping the students become good at what they want to do by supplying the information, and making it possible for the students to become someone that is beneficial to so many in our society, she said.
Snyder believes that the benefits from the program go full circle among the community, starting with the students who get jobs, all the way to the clients who bring their pets in for medical help, she said.
“Everyone benefits starting with the students who graduate and get jobs. The veterinarians who hire them benefit a lot too. Of course the animals they work with benefit along with the owners of the animals because they are increasing the standard of practice of veterinary medicine,” Snyder said.
Snyder said for students who plan on applying for the program, to remember that experience with animals helps in the long run but a strong background in science and math is very important because the program is a heavily science-based program.
“You cannot understand about pharmacology until you understand anatomy and physiology. You cannot understand about surgery until you understand the science behind surgery. So you need to have a good science background,” Snyder said.
For more information on the Veterinary Technician program, students can go to cnm. edu/programs-of-study or email Snyder at firstname.lastname@example.org