App State introduces veterinary technology degree

Andrew Rice, Reporter

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job demand for veterinarians and veterinary technicians is projected to grow by 15% from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. 

Beginning in August, App State will welcome veterinary technology students as part of a new initiative toward an online veterinary technology degree program.

The new degree program will offer a Bachelor of Science in veterinary technology, which includes on-site clinical training and career advancement opportunities for those already in the field.

App State developed the program with Banfield Pet Hospital — the self-proclaimed leader of preventative veterinary care in the United States. The partnership hopes to address the issue of about 75 million pets in the U.S. might lack proper veterinary care by 2030 due to a shortage of veterinary professionals, according to a study from Banfield. 

“We are proud to engage in this partnership, which will advance the market demand for veterinary professionals, especially in rural areas,” said Chancellor Sheri Everts in an email.

The Department of Rural Resistance and Innovation within the College of Arts and Sciences will house the new online program. Virginia Corrigan was appointed as director of the program for current and future App State students. 

Corrigan has more than 10 years of experience in veterinary medicine and higher education along with various leadership roles.

“This program is designed to be flexible and will fit the needs of students currently employed in veterinary medical practice,” Corrigan said.

The university is looking to attract a mix of many prospective students for the veterinary technology program. 

“We anticipate demand from veterinary assistants currently working in veterinary practices  as well as from students with associate’s degrees from any of N.C.’s community colleges that wish to pursue a BS degree in veterinary technology,” Corrigan said.

Corrigan said Banfield Pet Hospitals and App State have a unique partnership that can make transformational change by merging academic and industrial sectors for the betterment of Western North Carolina and beyond.

Julia White, a freshman cellular and molecular biology student and pet owner, is looking forward to the introduction of more students in the veterinary field.

“Good veterinarian services can be hard to find,” White said. “Providing these opportunities for students will definitely benefit the community on a much larger scale.”

Corrigan said she foresees crafting a new program almost entirely online will not be an easy task, but she is ready to face it head on.

“Putting together a new program will have its challenges,” Corrigan said. “I am working on putting together a phenomenal team, and we will navigate these challenges together as we achieve our shared vision.”