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The veterinary assistant role, as described by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is centered on caring for animals who are undergoing treatment in a lab and animal hospital/clinic environments. According to O*NET Online, some of the central tasks for veterinary assistants include:

  • How to treat and diagnose common diseases in animals
  • How to clean an animal's teeth
  • Assisting a veterinary team during surgery
  • Collecting lab specimens from an animal

These are some of the primary skills prospective students might potentially learn as part of the curriculum in online veterinary assistant training courses.

Skills taught in veterinary assistant courses

Although the exact course materials offered as part of an online veterinary assistant class differ from school to school, based off a review of various syllabi, the following are skills and veterinary science subjects students generally obtain in these courses:

  • Animal husbandry
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical calculations
  • Radiology
  • Anesthesia
  • Veterinary technology
  • Medical terminology
  • Nutrition
  • Animal behavior and restraint
  • Exotic animal care

Applying veterinary assistant skills

In addition to the core subjects listed above, the communication and office skills these students potentially gain when in school can help to better communicate with the veterinarians they assist at animal hospitals and clinics, as well as laboratories, research facilities and universities.

According to the BLS, a number of skills related to veterinary assistant work can potentially be applied to other careers. For example, veterinary assistant graduates have the potential to become animal care service workers, who are responsible for feeding, training, grooming and exercising animals. Additionally, these employees -- who generally work in kennels, zoos, stables and animal shelters -- help to clean the cages, stables, zoological parks and aquariums where animals are housed.

Veterinary technicians and technologists are typically required to have a number of the technical skills and knowledge veterinary assistants learn in school. These professionals provide first aid and other emergency care to animals; give vaccines and medications to patients; take X-rays and develop them and administer anesthesia to animals.

Sources:

Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinary-assistants-and-laboratory-animal-caretakers.htm

Animal Care and Service Workers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/animal-care-and-service-workers.htm

Veterinary Technologists and Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinary-technologists-and-technicians.htm

Veterinary Assistant Program, Pima Medical Institute, Accessed June 27, 2014, https://pmi.edu/Programs/Certificate/Veterinary-Assistant

Veterinary Assistant School at Penn Foster, Penn Foster Career School, Accessed June 27, 2014, http://www.pennfoster.edu/programs-and-degrees/veterinary-studies/veterinary-assistant-career-diploma

Biological & Health Sciences Division Veterinary Technology Department, Foothill College, Accessed June 27, 2014, http://www.foothill.edu/bio/programs/vettech/

Career Diploma in Veterinary Assisting, Ashworth College, Accessed June 27, 2014, http://www.ashworthcollege.edu/career-diplomas/veterinary-assisting

Online Veterinary Assistant School, U.S. Career Institute, Accessed June 27, 2014, http://www.uscareerinstitute.edu/certificates/professional-services/veterinary-assistant/

"31-9096.00 - Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers," O*NET OnLine, July 17, 2014, http://www.onetonline.org/link/details/31-9096.00

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