The new Registered Veterinary Technician Program at Allan Hancock College will teach its first crop of students using state-of-the-art equipment that’s about as close to the real doctor-patient interaction as one can get in the classroom.
The one-year program, designed so veterinarian assistants can earn registered vet technician licenses, employs several lifelike, actual-size dog mannequins that allow for realistic articulations, intubations, blood samplings and much more.
Cool new toys make the program an even sweeter success for those who have been working and hoping for its creation the past five years.
“Frankly, it’s better than anything I imagined,” said Linda Metaxas, chairwoman of the school's Life & Physical Sciences Department. “It’s tailored just right to them. These animals are quite sophisticated.”
Metaxas and Paul Murphy, dean of academic affairs, have been the steadfast, enthusiastic cheerleaders for the program, which is serving 25 students in its first semester of basic courses.
The program’s coordinator and instructor, Richard Seidenberg, said 40 students applied for spots in the vet-tech classes — the only ones offered on the Central Coast.
On a recent afternoon, Seidenberg demonstrated how students will use the state-of-the-art dog patient equipment, much of which was made by Rescue Critters! Animal Training Mannikins.
He put a cast-like brace on one furry, stuffed canine, checked the breathing and heart sounds with a stethoscope on another, practiced CPR and intubations, and even went through the motions of collecting blood samples from visible, touchable veins.
“Everything moves lifelike,” said Seidenberg, who owns Animal Clinic of Santa Maria. “No one is bored in this class.”
Students in this fall’s program class have a minimum of two years of working experience, and all are vet assistants of varying ages. They attend class three nights a week, since most are at work in the field during the day.
Seidenberg said current coursework lays the foundation for more advanced courses next semester, which also equals more hands-on training with equipment.
Although the program is filled with those already working in the field, Seidenberg said the college hopes to eventually open up the courses to those with less experience.
“It’s really for anybody interested in the veterinarian field,” Seidenberg said, noting the potential to switch up the program. “Stay tuned.”