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Veterinary Technician School

Your four semester Veterinary Technician Associate Degree syllabus consists of online vet tech classes covering topics like: pharmacology, clinical pathology and parasitology, anesthesia, imaging, laboratory procedures, and much more.

Penn Foster Vet Tech School Features

AVMA and CVTEA accredited school
Accreditation
Penn Foster College's Vet Tech Associate Degree program has full accreditation with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) through their Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). Additionally, Penn Foster College is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
VTNE Preparation
VTNE Preparation
Penn Foster College’s Vet Tech program has full AVMA-CVTEA accreditation, so graduates are eligible to sit for the VTNE examination. Most states require VTNE candidates to be graduates of a certified veterinary technician program accredited by the American or Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. Penn Foster’s Veterinary Technician program meets these requirements.
Hands-on Vet Tech Experience
Hands-on Vet Tech Experience
Included in the vet tech program are two clinical externships where you can gain valuable hands-on experience working under the guidance of licensed veterinarians and certified vet techs. You can choose to complete your externships at a veterinary clinic or hospital near you, or you can apply through our partner, VCA Animal Hospitals

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

The Veterinary Technician associate degree program will prepare the students to work as veterinary technicians in small or large animal hospitals or clinics. The program also prepares the students to take the Veterinary Technician National Examination.

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to...
  • Demonstrate effective written and interpersonal communication skills
  • Demonstrate effective quantitative skills
  • Demonstrate computer and information literacy
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the liberal arts, natural sciences, and social sciences
    • Office and Hospital Procedures, Client Relations, and Communication
      • Participate in facility management utilizing traditional and electronic media and appropriate medical terminology and abbreviations
      • Communicate in a professional manner in all formats—written, oral, non-verbal, and electronic
        Follow and uphold applicable laws and the veterinary technology profession's ethical codes to provide high quality care to patients.
    • Pharmacy and Pharmacology
      • Safely and effectively administer prescribed drugs to patients.
      • Accurately dispense and explain prescribed drugs to clients
    • Nursing
      • Demonstrate and perform patient assessment techniques in a variety of animal species
      • Understand and demonstrate husbandry, nutrition, therapeutic and dentistry techniques appropriate to various animal species.
    • Anesthesia
      • Safely and effectively manage and maintain patients in all phases of anesthesia
      • Safely and effectively select, utilize and maintain anesthetic delivery and monitoring instruments and equipment
    • Surgical Nursing
      • Understand and integrate all aspects of patient management for common surgical procedures in a variety of animal species
      • Understand and provide the appropriate instruments, supplies and environment to maintain asepsis during surgical procedures
    • Laboratory Procedures
      • Properly package, handle and store specimens for laboratory analysis
      • Properly carry out analysis of laboratory specimens
    • Imaging
      • Safely and effectively produce diagnostic radiographic and non-radiographic images
    • Laboratory Animal Procedures
      • Safely and effectively handle common laboratory animals used in animal research
    • Avian, Exotic, Small Mammals and Fish Procedures
      • Understand the approach to providing safe and effective care for birds, reptiles, amphibians, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, and ferrets

Semester 1

Basic Skills Assessment

All degree applicants are required to complete two Basic Skills Assessments, one in reading and one in math, to determine the level of readiness for beginning their selected program. Additional studies may be required.

Learn how to be successful in your program, and learn about the types of veterinary practices, the veterinary health-care team, and veterinary practice design.

Objectives:

  • Understand how to use the study materials, prepare for and take exams, access and use our website, create a study schedule, and determine your learning style.
  • Be familiar with veterinary medicine and veterinary technology.
  • Understand the roles of the various members of the veterinary health-care team.
  • Know the professional ethics and legal aspects of veterinary practice.
In this course, you’ll learn about animal behavior, handling and restraint, patient history, and physical exams.

Objectives:

  • Understand animal behavior.
  • Recognize how to humanely control the animal’s natural defense mechanisms.
  • Take a quality medical history.
  • Perform a thorough physical examination.

Additional Course Material

Supplement: Medical Terminology

Get better at finding and using information!

Objectives:

  • Search the Internet more effectively.
  • Get tips about search engines and reliable websites.
  • Learn how to search libraries and other information centers for important, useful information.
This course will allow you to build your computer skills through a combination of reading and hands-on practice. You will navigate the popular software tools of Microsoft® Office.

Objectives:

  • Create, edit, and illustrate Microsoft® Word™ documents.
  • Apply formulas and functions to large data sets in Microsoft® Excel.®
  • Incorporate useful charts and graphs to summarize data.
  • Add, delete, sort, and lay out table data.
  • Create presentations in Microsoft® PowerPoint® using advanced tools, tables, and charts.
Get introduced to the origin of life and the relationships between all living things!

Objectives:

  • Study how organisms are structured and how they work.
  • Learn to discuss the various forms of life and their processes.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Essentials of Biology

You’ll explore the fascinating world of structures and function of the animal body with emphasis on the similarities and differences of domestic animals. You’ll learn body organization and metabolism of cells, tissues, and organ systems, including the respiratory, digestive, skeletal, muscular, and cardiovascular systems.

See the anatomy of cats and dogs with online access to dog and cat atlases.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Clinical Anatomy and Physiology for Veterinary Technicians

This course is a continuation of Anatomy and Physiology 1.

Objectives:

  • Recognize the integumentary, urinary, and endocrine systems.
  • Identify the nervous system and sensory organs.

You’ll continue to have online access to the dog and cat atlases.

Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 2

This course teaches the skills and techniques of effectively developing, drafting, and revising college-level essays toward a specific purpose and audience: active reading, prewriting strategies, sentence and paragraph structure, thesis statements, varied patterns of development (e.g., illustration, comparison and contrast, classification), critical reading toward revision of structure and organization, editing for standard written conventions, use and documentation of outside sources. Students submit two prewriting assignments, and three essays (process analysis, classification and division, argumentation).

Objectives:

  • Use writing skills to construct well-written sentences and active reading skills to understand and analyze text
  • Develop paragraphs using topic sentences, adequate detail, supporting evidence, and transitions
  • Describe the revision, editing, and proofreading steps of the writing process
  • Distinguish between different patterns of development
  • Use prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing to write a formal, college-level essay
  • Recognize how to determine the reliability of secondary sources and to give proper credit to sources referenced in an essay
  • Use prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing to write a formal, college-level essay
  • Use techniques of drafting, evaluating, and creating a sound written argument
As a veterinary technician, you may have a role in practice management.

Objectives:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the liberal arts, natural sciences, and social sciences
  • Demonstrate effective written and interpersonal communication skills
  • Identify the profession of veterinary technology and the laws and regulations related to veterinary technology.
  • Explain best practices for veterinary practice management and the importance of interpersonal skills.
  • Analyze the various components associated with medical records and the management of medical records.
  • Analyze the important factors involved with occupational health and safety in veterinary hospitals.
  • Compare two veterinary management software through research

Additional Course Material:

  • Textbook: Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians
  • Workbook: Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians Workbook
This course is designed to help you develop a solid foundation in mathematical applications.

Objectives:

  • Perform basic math operations using whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and percentages.
  • Write and solve business-related equations.
  • Determine trade and cash discounts; markups and markdowns; payroll; and simple interest.
  • Prepare a bank reconciliation statement.

Additional Course Material:

  • Textbook: Practical Business Math Procedures
As a veterinary technician, you are a key player in the animals’ health. So you’ll need a thorough knowledge of animal health care.

Objectives:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the liberal arts, natural sciences, and social sciences
  • Demonstrate effective written and interpersonal communication skills
  • Demonstrate a high level of inquiry, analytical, and problem-solving skills
  • Explain diagnostic sampling and therapeutic techniques for small and large animals
  • Explain neonatal care and its impact on development, elements of medical nursing, and fluid therapy and calculations
  • Analyze procedures and techniques that involve critical care situations, toxicology, and wounds
  • Analyze dental clinical practices for veterinary dentistry
  • Analyze CPR, fluid therapy, wound management, and veterinary periodontics
In this lesson, you’ll review and practice basic math and then learn medical math.

Objectives:

  • Use the units of measure in the metric system.
  • Calculate IV flow rates.
  • Perform dosage calculations.

Additional Course Material:

  • Textbook: Essential Calculations for Veterinary Nurses and Technicians, 3rd Edition
  • Supplement: Essential Calculations for Veterinary Nurses and Technicians
  • Supplement: Additional Exercises in Medical Dosage Calculations
The material you’ll learn in this course will form the essential framework of understanding you’ll need to become a veterinary pharmacologist.

Objectives:

  • Understand the use of drugs in veterinary medicine.
  • Understand drug testing methodology and the use/handling of prescriptions.
  • Calculate dosages and demonstrate administration techniques.
  • Understand drug actions, interactions, and adverse reactions.

Additional Course Material:

  • Textbook: Applied Pharmacology for Veterinary Technicians
Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Clinical Externship 1

Experience the work of a veterinary technician under the supervision of a veterinarian. You’ll gain hands-on experience and apply what you’ve learned in semesters one and two. This is the first of two clinical externships at a veterinary hospital. Be a part of the working veterinary team and practice the knowledge and skills acquired from the course material.

Semester 3

Clinical Pathology is a specialty that emphasizes the diagnosis and prevention of disease.

Objectives:

  • Understand the clinical laboratory and laboratory safety.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of urinalysis, a diagnostic procedure for evaluating patients.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of microbiology, the study of microbes bacteria, fungi, viruses.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of cytology, the examination and interpretation of smears made from tissues and fluids.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Laboratory Procedures for Veterinary Technicians

In this course, you’ll continue your study of clinical pathology. It’s vital that you understand the theories behind the various tests you’ll perform, as well as the methods to ensure the accuracy of the results.

Objectives:

  • Understand the fundamentals of clinical laboratory procedures.
  • Use equipment for hematology and hemostasis, clinical chemistry, and immunology.
(Choose one) ...

HUM102 - Art Appreciation

In this course, you will gain an understanding of artistic media, historical periods and artistic movements, the roles of the artist and the viewer, and the principles of art criticism.

Objectives:

  • Define the language, visual elements, and principles of design of art
  • Identify two-dimensional media
  • Identify three-dimensional media
  • Explain the evolution of art from ancient Mediterranean cultures through eighteenth century Europe
  • Identify features and popular examples of art throughout the history of African, Asian, Pacific, and American cultures
  • Compare the genres of the Modern and Postmodern eras of art from around the world

Additional Course Material:
Textbook: Living with Art, 11th Edition

HUM104 - Music Appreciation

In this course, you'll understand how to appreciate music by learning about the roles of the composer and the listener, the principles of music theory and instrumentation, musically significant historical periods, and varying styles of music.

Objectives:

  • Identify the building blocks of music a composer can use to create a piece, such as rhythm, melody, harmony, texture, form, and timbre
  • Explain the evolution of Western music through history, from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century
  • Differentiate between the music of the baroque era and the musical styles of previous time periods
  • Recognize the major characteristics of classical music, including form, melody, and instrumentation
  • Discuss the musical trends and innovations that occurred during the romantic era
  • Trace the evolution of American popular music in the twentieth century
  • Recognize the influence of world music on modern Western composition

Additional Course Material:
Textbook: Experience Music, Fourth Edition

Anesthesiology is the practice of medicine dedicated to the relief of pain and total care of the surgical patient before, during, and after surgery.

Objectives:

  • Understand the pharmacology of commonly used anesthetic agents.
  • Identify different procedures for administering anesthesia.
  • Administer anesthesia and medications to animals and monitor their response.
  • Identify anesthetic equipment, calculate dosage, and recognize anesthetic emergencies.

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Anesthesia and Analgesia for Veterinary Technicians

As a veterinary technician you may assist with surgery, so you’ll need an understanding of the surgical environment and equipment.

Objectives:

  • Identify and prepare surgical equipment.
  • Prepare animals for surgery.
  • Monitor animals during surgery.
  • Guide animals through recovery.

Additional Course Material:

  • Textbook: Small Animal Surgical Nursing
Veterinary parasitology is the science that studies the parasites of animals.

Objectives:

  • Define terms associated with veterinary parasitology, give examples of parasites that illustrate those terms, and conduct laboratory tests to identify parasites
  • Describe the types of protozoans and identifying characteristics
  • Identify morphologic features and describe the reproductive system of nematodes
  • Describe anatomy and life cycles of tapeworms and pseudotapeworms
  • Describe morphology and life cycles of arthropods

Additional Course Material

Textbook: Diagnostic Parasitology for Veterinary Technicians, Fifth Edition

Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 4

Radiation and ultrasound; x-ray production, film types and development, equipment operation and care, darkroom and developing procedures; radiation safety and preventative measures; positioning the animal for radiograph production.

Objectives:

  • Explain the fundamentals of an x-ray and the safety procedures used
  • Identify various types of film, the process to develop images in a darkroom, and various techniques used for radiographic imaging
  • Explain general concepts for digital radi¬ography, veterinary medicine, ultrasound imaging, and additional modalities
  • Show how to properly position small animals for radiographs of the thorax, abdomen, pelvis, hind limbs, shoulders, front limbs, spine, and skull
  • Explain dental radiography and how to properly position exotic and large animals for radiographs

Included with Radiography for Veterinary Technicians is a video about radiology, anesthetic, and surgical preparation.

Additional Course Material:

  • Textbook: Diagnostic Imaging for Veterinary Technicians
You’ll study the interrelation between disease, pathology, and immunology.

Objectives:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the liberal arts, natural sciences, and social sciences
  • Demonstrate effective written and interpersonal communication skills
  • Explain safety responsibilities and preventive health programs
  • Explain the veterinary technician practice model and small animal diseases
  • Analyze common diseases and conditions of horses, ruminants, swine, and camelids
  • Describe necropsy procedures and the elements involved in veterinary oncology
  • Analyze various diseases in veterinary medicine
This course will introduce you to the relationship between biology and behavior. You will learn about the human development throughout the life span.

Objectives:

  • Identify major psychological theories.
  • Discuss consciousness, memory, thought, and language.
  • Define intelligence, personality, and stress.
  • Analyze the role of gender in psychology.
  • Explain how community influences behavior.

Additional Course Materials:

Textbook: Psychology and Your Life

Like humans, animals need good nutrition too, but their nutritional needs are different.

Objectives:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the liberal arts, natural sciences, and social sciences
  • Demonstrate effective written and interpersonal communication skills
  • Explain various elements of nutrition and healthy feeding protocols
  • Compare nutrition and special considerations when feeding various types of large animals
  • Explain reproduction and breeding in various types of animals
  • Analyze geriatric and hospice care and how pet loss impacts the human-animal bond
  • Analyze animal nutrition, animal reproduction, end-of-life support, and client grief support
Laboratory animal medicine is a diverse field that requires broad knowledge of a large number of species.

Objectives:

  • Understand biomedical research and the ethical considerations centering on the use of laboratory animals in research.
  • Know state, federal, and local animal welfare regulations.
  • Discuss biology, care, utilization, and diseases of commonly used laboratory animals.

Additional Course Materials

Textbook: Laboratory Animal and Exotic Pet Medicine: Principles and Procedures

Supplement: Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals

Veterinary Technician National Examination Review

Here you’ll prepare for the Veterinary Technician National Examination. Credentialing varies from state to state; in approximately 40 states, the VTNE is administered as a means of credentialing.

Proctored Examination

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Clinical Externship 2

Again you’ll experience the work of a veterinary technician under the supervision of a veterinarian, this time in a mixed-animal practice. You’ll be part of the working veterinary team and practice the knowledge and skills acquired from your four semesters.

Graduation Requirements
  • Complete all 4 semesters.
  • Pass all courses.
  • Achieve a cumulative Quality Point Average (QPA) of 2.0 or higher.

Licensing Information for Vet Techs

Licensing requirements for Registered Veterinary Technicians vary greatly from state to state throughout the United States and may contain specific educational course approvals. You should contact your state's appropriate licensing bureau for the current requirements, or your state legislature for pending legislation.
Textbook Option
The Vet Tech Program gives you the flexibility to choose how you want your textbooks. Whether you prefer traditional printed textbooks or the convenience and mobility of online textbooks... the choice is yours.
Textbook Option
Vet Tech degree online

Sample Veterinary Technician Associate Degree Lesson

Penn Foster courses are written in a way that is easy to understand, and materials are broken down into manageable lessons. Take a look at what a Veterinary Technician course would look like.
NOTE: Advanced standing student shipments may vary from the above schedule.
Although this outline covers all four semesters of your program, you receive lesson materials for each semester as you enroll.
Working as a veterinary technician is physically demanding. Veterinary technicians must be able to walk and stand for long periods of time. The ability to reach, bend, climb, and crouch is needed to perform job responsibilities. Other requirements include the ability to lift and carry 50 pounds without assistance, to see, to speak (in English), and to hear well enough to communicate observations about animals, and to possess arm and hand steadiness — as well as finger dexterity — to operate equipment and work with animals.
This program requires the student to complete an externship in both Semester 2 and Semester 4. Students will be required to obtain health insurance prior to the start of their externships. All costs associated with the externships are the responsibility of the student. Students are asked to identify externship sites and are expected to complete a minimum of 450 hours of practice in the program. The Vet Clinical Coordinator validates that the placement is in a viable environment that provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate the required competencies.
Credits earned in Penn Foster programs may transfer to some, but not all, learning institutions. If you are planning to continue your education with another school after you earn your degree from Penn Foster, you should check with that school regarding credit transfer policies.

Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 7® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to participate in and complete your program.
Access to Microsoft® Office 365 is a requirement for this program.
We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
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¹ This program requires the student to complete an externship in both Semester 2 and Semester 4. Students will be required to obtain health insurance prior to the start of their externships. All costs associated with the externships are the responsibility of the student. Students are asked to identify externship sites and are expected to complete a minimum of 450 hours of practice in the program. The Vet Clinical Coordinator validates that the placement is in a viable environment that provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate the required competencies.