Vet Tech Program Celebrates Anniversaries, New Veterinary Reception Program

August 13, 2015 -- Last month, the CNM Veterinarian Technology Program celebrated its 10th anniversary, the 20th anniversary of the South Valley Campus and CNM’s 50th anniversary with a party that also included an announcement that long-time Vet Tech program director, Dr. Bonnie Snyder, was retiring.
Vet Tech Program Celebrates Anniversaries, New Veterinary Reception Program

Aug 13, 2015

The attendees also reveled over the new Veterinary Receptionist Program that starts this fall.

“We had a lot to celebrate this summer,” said Evelyn Selva, RVT, instructor in the Veterinarian Technology Program and Clinical Coordinator. “It’s been a great 10 years.”

Selva was on hand when Vet Tech started out as topics courses in fall 2003. Local veterinarians Dr. John Heidrich and Dr. Frankee Elliot were instrumental in pushing for the establishment of the program. Snyder was hired in 2004 to get the program accredited. She finished designing the program and oversaw the construction of the classroom/laboratory space on the South Valley Campus. The program was accredited in November 2005.

“Going to veterinary technology school is like having a full-time job,” Snyder said. “The students have to take prerequisites, go to their veterinary technology classes and do clinical rounds in local veterinary hospitals and research facilities all in six terms.”

Snyder said the program is quite intense. The students are educated about nine animal species and learn animal handling and restraint, surgical nursing, medical record keeping, blood drawing, pharmacology, radiology, anesthesiology, and more. They have to know about large animals like horses and cattle, and smaller animals like dogs, cats and birds and everything in between.

Once they finish the program, the students obtain an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology and take the Veterinary Technician National Exam, which allows them to work under the supervision of veterinarians. The average CNM pass rate for the exam is 97.2 percent compared to the national pass rate of 66 percent.

Selva noted that 148 students have gone through the program and graduated, but that is much less than the state needs.

It is generally agreed that each veterinarian should have two veterinarian technicians working with them,” she said. “We have 500 practicing veterinarians in New Mexico and only 200 veterinary technicians.”

Most of the CNM graduates remain in New Mexico working at local animal clinics. However, they can also be found in other states around the country, including Connecticut, Oregon, California, Arizona, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Texas.

The students take classes as cohorts with two cohorts going through at a time and only one in the summer. The 10th cohort graduated this spring.

The faculty and staff are excited that a new veterinarian-related program is starting this fall. It’s the Veterinary Receptionist Certificate Program. When students complete the program they receive a certificate, and are prepared with entry-level, reception/front office related skills to serve as receptionists or in customer care for veterinary offices, pet stores, agricultural store and grooming or boarding facilities. The students will explore the basics for a variety of animal health professions, acquire skills for reception/front office service, understand veterinary professionalism and gain skills to excel in veterinary customer services. The course can be taken by high school students as dual credit.

Snyder noted that despite it being a new program, most of the courses are filled.

She added that, while she is retiring at the end of Summer Term, she won’t be disappearing. She plans on continuing to teach at CNM.