New ‘vet tech’ degree to target emerging skills gap
The University of Adelaide will introduce a new degree program to fill an emerging niche in the animal and veterinary sciences industry.
The three-year Bachelor of Veterinary Technology at the University’s Roseworthy campus will train ‘paraveterinary’ health care specialists.
Graduates will be trained in advanced technologies used in animal health; in high-level veterinary care including the critical care of acute patients; in practical skills in caring for all kinds of animals; and in comprehensive understanding of animal diseases.
The program is expected to lead to careers in allied fields such as veterinary practice management, biosecurity, animal health pharmaceuticals and research.
“Veterinary technologists are highly trained and skilled specialists that can support registered veterinarians in areas like monitoring anaesthesia, diagnostic imaging, performance monitoring and critical care after complex surgical procedures,” says Professor Wayne Hein, Head of the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences and Dean of Roseworthy campus.
“In a veterinary practice, for example, their role would sit between the registered veterinarian and the veterinary nurse.
“Our veterinary technologists will be able to enter the industry with a high level of responsibility in support of veterinarians, well-trained in the advanced technologies which are becoming an integral part of the veterinary industry and commanding a higher level of skills and knowledge than that provided in veterinary nursing qualifications.”
The University of Adelaide’s vet school, which is ranked in the top 50 globally (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019), will be only the third in the country to offer a veterinary technology degree. The new program will have a strong practical component with almost 500 hours of clinical experience over the three years.
“Students will study in a real-world setting alongside our veterinary and animal sciences students, with exposure to a wide range of animals and access to our world-class specialist facilities including our Companion Animal Health Centre and our Equine Health and Performance Centre,” Prof Hein says.
Animal technology has been included as a “top priority industry and occupation skill” by the Australian Industry and Skills Committee in their 2018 Skills Forecast. The animal technology workforce is projected to increase by 9% by 2023.
Prof Hein says that veterinary practices, particularly those in the eastern states of Australia and overseas, are increasingly recognising the productivity benefits to their practice by employing veterinary technologists.
“Most veterinarians will welcome ‘vet techs’ as well-trained support staff who will make the vet's job easier, more efficient and more rewarding,” added veterinary technology program coordinator Professor Kym Abbott.
“An additional benefit will be that many practices, particularly in rural and regional areas, are having serious difficulty recruiting and retaining veterinarians. In some cases, vet techs will help keep these practices viable and profitable, to the benefit of the vet, the vet tech, the clients and community.”
The new degree will start in Semester 1, 2020 and will become open to international students from 2021.
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