A new course is coming to Piedmont Community College (PCC) this summer for those who want to work with animals, serve their community, and make a positive impact. Starting July 12, students have the opportunity to take their first steps to become a Veterinary Assistant.

Veterinary Assistant I is an entry-level course where students learn the impact of the human-animal bond, veterinary safety and sanitation, patient vital signs, animal restraint methods, and the role of a Veterinary Assistant during a veterinary emergency.

PCC program coordinators noticed how much interest there is in working with animals through the Bartlett Yancey Senior High School veterinary assisting program, so the College developed their own program for students to explore how they can turn that interest and passion into a career.

Mrs. Melanie Gibson is eager to begin the course and support the veterinary industry which she says, “is in desperate need of skilled support staff.” She said the knowledge and skills gained in the course are the foundational building blocks for any career choice in the animal science field.

“I hope students will develop a love and commitment to the veterinary industry and the animals they care for,” Gibson said. “While this course teaches them the technical skills they will need to know in any career in the veterinary industry, it will also develop each student’s confidence with hands-on skills with both daily tasks and more difficult scenarios like emergencies and euthanasia.”

The veterinary assistant course is not just for current and future veterinary assistants and is useful for any veterinary staff member and could be used as a stepping-stone for both high school students and adults who are interested in pursuing animal-related degrees, from associates to doctorate. Anyone 16 years or older can register to take the course.

“I am eager to teach students with different connections to the veterinary industry,” Gibson said. “Some students may be in high school with a tremendous love for animals but little to no experience in the veterinary setting. Some may be veterinary staff seeking to increase their knowledge and skills, or adults looking for a complete career change. Each student will bring a unique dynamic to the course that will strengthen the learning opportunities for the entire class.”

Gibson’s career began when she was 16 as a kennel technician. Since then, her career grew where she obtained many roles including veterinary assistant, emergency veterinary assistant, technician manager, practice manager, and teaching veterinary assisting at the high school level. She obtained her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Animal Science from NC State University and her Master’s of Science degree in Agricultural Education from North Carolina A&T State University.

Class begins July 12 with portions of the course taking place online, other portions will be face-to-face on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:45-9 p.m., and each students must complete at least two sessions at the Animal Protection Society of Caswell County of Wednesdays from 1:30-3:30 p.m. To learn more about Veterinary Assisting and how to register for this course, visit piedmontcc.edu/vet-assist or contact Emily Buchanan at (336) 694-8042 or email emily.buchanan@piedmontcc.edu.

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