University and Banfield Pet Hospital announce partnership for aspiring veterinarians

Gianna Holiday, Reporter

App State and Banfield Pet Hospital have partnered to provide those in rural areas with better access to veterinary care for their pets beginning next semester. 

Banfield Pet Hospital is the leading provider of preventive veterinary care in the U.S., and partnered with the university due to a critical shortage of veterinary professionals, especially in the High Country and other rural areas. 

A recent study from Banfield found an estimated 75 million pets in the U.S. could lack access to necessary veterinary care by 2030. 

“App State excels in developing visionary academic programs that address professional workforce shortages in rural communities and help advance industry standards,”  Chancellor Sheri Everts said. “This partnership with the leading pioneer in preventive health care for animals is synergistic and forward-thinking.”

This sponsored contract will allow App State to develop a new, 4-year online program to educate future veterinarians.

The program will provide core training in veterinary technology through 70 credit hours of coursework in subject areas required by American Veterinary Medical Association accreditation. It will also include 15 credit hours in subject areas like science, math and communication skills, approximately 55 hours of coursework in domain-specific areas and 240 hours of practical experience obtained through clinical externships, according to App State director of communication Megan Hayes.

“The degree will mark expansion in the non-clinical knowledge, skills and competencies that should be successful as team leaders upon graduation such as communication, critical thinking skills, leadership and ethics,” Hayes said. 

Focused expansion of the core clinical skills include recognized veterinary technician specialties and a career path to leadership positions in veterinary practices.

Banfield put forth several million dollars toward the development of the new online degree program for aspiring licensed veterinary technicians. Similar to a nurse, a licensed veterinary tech is able to offer specific services such as administering vaccines to an animal or checking their vitals alongside a veterinarian.

Some students feel that, while Boone is considered rural, the program could have been brought to a community college.

“While I think it’s a good idea, I think it would’ve been a better program to come to Caldwell,” said Hannah Baker, a junior psychology major. “Most tech programs are seen at community colleges and pre-vet med programs are seen at the university level. It is a good step forward, but I don’t think it’ll be utilized as well as it could have been.”

This online program will be part of the College of Arts and Sciences. It will combine both Bachelor of Arts and Sciences and Bachelor of Science credentials with preparation for veterinary technician licensure. University faculty will craft the curriculum for the courses.