NATCHITOCHES – Growing up in Shreveport, Tyler Cummings had a passion for animals and knew she wanted to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. She also knew that attending a large university was not for her, so she explored the opportunities Northwestern State University offers in veterinary technology.
“It was a very easy decision for me to make,” Cummings said. “I loved the curriculum for the vet tech program at NSU and I knew that I would receive more one on one attention and hands on experience here.”
Veterinary technicians could be described as the nurses of the animal world. When animals get sick or injured, vet techs examine them, administer first aid, collect laboratory samples and perform certain tests under the direction of licensed veterinarians. Providing this type of hands-on animal care requires formal training and, in most cases, professional licensure. Candidates must graduate from veterinary technician schools accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam to be licensed.
Northwestern State offers both the associate degree in veterinary technology and a bachelor's degree in biology with veterinary technology concentration. While there are over 200 schools that offer the associate degree, only 22 others in the U.S. offer the bachelor of science option in schools accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. NSU is the only Louisiana school that offers the bachelor’s degree option.
According to Dr. Brenda Woodard, director of the program, NSU is finalizing an articulation agreement with Delgado Community College so that graduates of two-year program can complete the bachelor’s degree option at NSU.
“NSU is the only state school providing on-campus opportunities for completing clinical skills labs in radiology, anesthesia, dental prophylaxis, surgical technology and animal nursing in an educational setting,” Woodard said. “Students work with cattle and horses on the campus farm. Dogs and cats are housed on campus, along with rabbits, birds, reptiles and rodents. Students learn how to care for all of these animals as a veterinary technician.”
“The biggest advantages to the Vet Tech program here at NSU are the professors, the small classroom environment and the hands on experience that we receive,” Cummings said. “Dr. James Woodard and Dr. Brenda Woodard are phenomenal teachers. They push you to be the best that you can be. They make sure that every student receives that one-on-one attention that we need in order to excel.”
Cummings said the hands-on experience with animals is a big factor in student success. During their first two semesters, students partner to care for the animals housed in the program’s facilities
“It is a lot of pressure but everyone enjoys the experience,” said Cummings, who plans to practice as a registered veterinary technician in Texas after graduation and hopes to eventually operate a no-kill animal shelter. “In each vet tech class the professors make it a point to give you hands on experience with the different animals.”
NSU’s vet tech program was recently ranked 16th in the nation in four-year schools by accreditedschoolsonline.org. Woodard said the program is emotionally rewarding for students interested in learning to care for sick and injured animals. Cummings agreed.
“The person that usually pursues this field of work is one that has a passion for helping animals,” Cummings said. “It is not a career that you do for money. It is a career that you do out of love for animals.”
For information on NSU’s vet tech program and other degree programs offered through NSU’s School of Biological and Physical Sciences, visit sciences.nsula.edu.
The School will host its first Science Showcase from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17. The program is aimed at high school juniors and seniors interested in experiencing a day in the life of a science major at NSU. Science Showcase participants will perform hands-on experiments, participate in student-led questions and answer panels and learn about scholarships and career opportunities. To register for the event, visit sciences.nsula.edu/nsu-sciences-showcase. Participants can also like the NSU Science Showcase event on Facebook. For more information, contact J. Colby Lasyone at (318) 357-5375 or email email@example.com.