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APSU's new vet tech program to provide more career options for animal lovers

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Kaitlyn Peltier had a difficult choice to make. Her love of animals led her to own and train horses, but that same love also instilled in Peltier a desire to work in a veterinary office. She wanted to help animals, but she didn’t see herself trying to get into one of the country’s few, highly competitive veterinary schools. So, she had to choose—stay in Clarksville and continue to care for her horses, or leave her beloved animals and enroll in a veterinary technology program hours away from her home.

“I have always loved helping animals, and being a vet tech was what I dreamed about doing,” Peltier said.

She assumed her dream would be put on hold, but earlier this summer, the Austin Peay State University agriculture student received a bit of good news. In June, the Tennessee Board of Regents approved a new concentration in Veterinary Technology within APSU’s existing Bachelor of Science degree in General Agriculture.

“Having this program at Austin Peay is a huge relief,” Peltier said. “It makes me more excited to strive harder in my studies.”

The new concentration will officially begin in the fall of 2017, and it will prepare a growing number of APSU students to be veterinary technologists—one of the fastest growing career fields in the state and the country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment of veterinary technologists and technicians is projected to grow 30 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.”

”This program is designed to train students in the fast-growing field of veterinary technology,” Dr. Christina Galben, veterinarian and APSU assistant professor of Pre-Veterinary Medicine, said. “Vet techs can perform activities that otherwise they wouldn’t be able to do in a veterinary setting.”

For several years, Austin Peay has offered a Pre-Veterinary Medicine program that attracts large numbers of students who want to work with animals. But because of the competitive nature of veterinary graduate programs, many of those students don’t become veterinarians.

“We’ve got a lot of students interested in many aspects of the animal and veterinary sciences,” Dr. Don Sudbrink, chair of the APSU Department of Agriculture, said. “Not everyone wants to go on to become a veterinarian because it’s an intensely competitive training program, so this new concentration provides another opportunity for our students who are interested in this field to earn an appropriate degree.”

The new veterinary technology program will provide successful students with a four-year, Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture, and these students will then be able to pursue what U.S. News and World Report listed as one of the “Best Health Care Jobs” in the nation.

“Veterinary medicine is becoming a more advanced field, and qualified vets, as well as vet techs, are required for the specialized tasks of treating animals in clinics and animal hospitals,” the publication reported in April 2015. “There’s also particular demand for vet techs to work in public health, food and animal safety, and national disease control.”

For more information on APSU’s new program, contact Galben at galbenc@apsu.edu or Sudbrink at sudbrinkd@apsu.edu