After almost two years of planning, the Genesee Community College Board of Trustees this week approved a new Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree program in Veterinary Technology. It will now be submitted for final approval by the State University of New York and the New York State Education Department.
The program prepares students to work in partnerships with veterinarians as licensed veterinary technicians. Most veterinary technicians work in animal hospitals and clinics, shelters, research labs and zoos.
In recent years, many prospective Genesee students have asked about veterinary technology programs, said Eunice Bellinger, Ph.D, executive vice president for Academic Affairs. The demand for veterinary technologists is expected to grow by 20 percent in New York State over the next six years, and 41percent nationwide.
"This is a very high-demand profession," she told trustees. "The high concentration of farms in our region is one factor in local demand for the veterinary technology profession, and the overall popularity of pets is another."
The college anticipates beginning the program this fall and at least 15 students will be admitted to the first class. That number will more than double during the second year, Bellinger said. It's likely that Genesee will receive many more applications than it can accept.
"We anticipate that this will be a highly competitive program, much like other health care programs at Genesee," she said.
Genesee Community College Veterinary Technology students will complete courses in Anatomy and Physiology, Veterinary Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Veterinary Nutrition, Techniques in Laboratory Animals and Exotics, Small Animal Pathology and Nursing, Large Animal Pathology and Nursing, Surgical Nursing and Anesthesiology, Veterinary Radiology and Dentistry, Parasitology, as well as general education courses that include communications and mathematics. Students also complete three "externships" – supervised experience working with animals in a clinical setting.
The entire program consists of 72-credit hours, and can be completed by students pursuing full-time study in two years. Nine of the program's courses include extensive lab work, and the college will develop a veterinary lab at the Batavia Campus, Bellinger said.
The program will prepare students to complete the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE), which is required for veterinary technician licensure in New York State. Genesee will apply to have the program accredited by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.
Genesee graduates with an A.A.S. degree in veterinary technology will also have the opportunity to deepen their education in the veterinary management field or even become veterinarians, Bellinger told trustees. The college plans to develop transfer agreements with colleges and universities offering baccalaureate and other advanced veterinary programs.
SUNY Canton, which offers a degree in Veterinary Management Services, and SUNY Delhi, which offers a Bachelor of Business Administration in Veterinary Technology, have both expressed interest in developing a transfer program for Genesee graduates. Cornell University and Ross University School of Veterinary Science have also both expressed interest in developing transfer programs for students wishing to become veterinarians.
The new Veterinary Technology Program will be a deep source of pride to Genesee, Bellinger said.
"Our health care programs have long been regarded as among the very best in the northeastern United States," she said. "In our heavily agricultural region, an academic program focusing on animal health is a natural outgrowth of our mission and expertise. We look forward to developing a veterinary technology program that will be held in high esteem by students, the entire veterinary profession and the community."