Roads to Certification
Distance Learning Programs
There are several ways to become a registered veterinary technician (RVT). In previous issues we reviewed the traditional path of attending a veterinary technology program and the Alternate Route. In this, the third in a series of articles on ways to become an RVT in California, we review distance learning programs. The CVMA has negotiated substantial discounts for employees of CVMA members with two programs: The American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) and Cedar Valley College’s (CVC) Distance Education Veterinary Technology Program (DEVTP) offers a $50 discount per course (off of AAHA non-member rates) for 21 of 27 required courses; and Penn Foster College offers a 25% discount on tuition.
What is a distance learning program?
A distance learning program is a web-based veterinary technology degree program offered by a veterinary technology teaching institution, sometimes as an adjunct to a regular veterinary technology degree program. The program teaches you the knowledge and skills needed to be a qualified veterinary technician and at the end of the program you will have earned an Associate of Science degree. Coursework is completed online and there is a clinical component that is met by training with a licensed veterinarian.
Distance learning programs that meet the same standards of accreditation as standard veterinary technology programs and include this clinical component can be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This accreditation is important, because if you graduate from an AVMA-accredited program, you are eligible to sit for the certification examination.
Who should consider distance learning?
Distance learning programs are designed for people whose work and family obligations make it difficult for them to attend a regular on-campus program. They are also for students who do not have a veterinary technician training program near where they live, and who are unable to move to where there is a training program.
What are the disadvantages of distance learning programs?
The main disadvantage is that you do not have fellow students and teachers to interact with and learn from. Distance learning is not for people who require in-person contact with students and instructors. The lack of contact can be alleviated somewhat by becoming involved in a virtual campus comprised of internet bulletin boards, on-line chatting with fellow students and instructors, e-mail, and shared web pages for students.
Must you work for a veterinarian before beginning in a distance learning program?
No, this is not required. You can take internet courses without having worked at a veterinary hospital. However, to complete the clinical component you will have to establish a relationship with a licensed veterinarian who can be your mentor through that part of the training.
How long does it take to complete a distance learning program?
An average time is four to five years (compared to 18 months to two years in standard full-time programs), though it could take less time depending on your course load. Most students take one or two classes per semester, though this depends on their job and family commitments. If you can take more than one class per semester, the program will take less time to complete. Some schools will allow you to transfer general education credits from other schools; check with the program you are considering.