Program Goals and Outcomes

Veterinary Assistant Training Goals and Outcomes

The online Veterinary Assistant Training Program can prepare students to work as veterinary assistants in small and large vet clinics and hospitals. The program also helps students prepare to sit for the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) certification exam offered through NAVTA.

Veterinary Assistant

Career Diploma

12 months

As low as $59/mo

1-800-471-3232 (10AM - 6:30PM ET)

Program Goal

The program goal for Penn Foster's Veterinary Assistant program to prepare students to work as veterinary assistants under the supervision of veterinarians and veterinary technicians in small or large animal hospitals or clinics. The program also prepares the students to take the national test to become an Approved Veterinary Assistant.

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to...

  • Office and Hospital Procedures:
    • Front desk: Greet clients, demonstrate proper appointment scheduling and make appointments, prepare appropriate certificates for signature, admit and discharge patient, perform basic filing and retrieving of medical records, perform basic veterinary medical record-keeping procedures, demonstrate elementary computer skills, utilize basic medical terminology, and perform basic invoicing, billing, and payment on account procedures.
    • Telephone: Answer and direct phone call, recognize and respond appropriately to veterinary medical emergencies, by notifying the appropriate hospital personnel, request records and information from other veterinary facilities
    • Maintain basic cleanliness and orderliness of a veterinary facility: Inventory supplies, restock shelves, maintain x-ray, surgery, and laboratory logs, perform basic filing and retrieving of medical records, radiographs, lab reports, etc., and demonstrate knowledge of basic cleaning techniques of animal kennels and bedding, examination rooms, hospital facilities, and surgical suites
  • Communication and Client Relations:
    • Develop effective client communication skills
    • Write business letters and professional electronic communication with clients
    • Understand ethical conduct in relationship to the day to day operations of a vet hospital
    • Describe the roles and responsibilities of each member of the veterinary health team and the important part that each plays in the delivery of excellent care
    • Professional conduct: Understand the human-animal bond and respond to clients in various stages of grief, demonstrate professional and appropriate appearance and language in the workplace, and demonstrate appropriate use of electronic communication in the workplace (cell phone usage, text messaging, social networking, digital photography, etc.).
  • Pharmacy and Pharmacology:
    • Legal Issues: Recognize legal issues involving drugs in the workplace, recognize general types and groups of drugs and demonstrate proper terminology, differentiate prescription drugs from over-the-counter drugs and describe proper prescription label requirements
    • Filling medications and inventory control: Label and package dispensed drugs correctly, store, safely handle and dispose of biological and therapeutic agents, pesticides, and hazardous waste, perform inventory control procedures including restocking supplies and checking expiration dates
    • Vaccinations: Reconstitute vaccines and be familiar with proper protocols, describe possible routes and methods of drug and vaccine administration that the veterinarian or veterinary technician may choose and demonstrate appropriate small animal restraint for such protocols
  • Examination Room Procedures:
    • Restrain patients: small animals, restrain birds. rabbits, pocket pets, and exotics, large animals
    • Basic procedures: Determine and record temperature, pulse, respiration, body condition score, and weight of patients, capillary refill time and normal mucous membrane evaluation, take accurate history and report chief complaint, trim nails (required: cats and dogs; optional: birds and exotics), express anal sacs using the external method, identify external parasites (mites, lice, fleas, and ticks), recognize AKC dog breeds and CFA cat breeds, be able to properly identify the gender of small animal species, particularly felines, perform exam room grooming (i.e., trimming nails, external ear canal cleaning, etc.), apply external medications (eye and ear), and be familiar with small animal nutritional requirements, pet food labeling standards, dry matter basis calculations, and the differences between pet food products.
  • Small Animal Nursing (Large Animal Nursing--Optional):
    • Safety Concerns: Demonstrate knowledge of basic normal and abnormal animal behavior, Utilize patient & personnel safety measures
      Identify potential Zoonotic diseases, Describe isolation procedures, describe hazardous waste disposal, describe basic sanitation, be familiar with OSHA standards
    • Animal care: Provide routine record-keeping and observation of hospitalized patients, i.e. stress importance of notations made when cleaning and feeding, demonstrate a basic understanding of small animal anatomy, common diseases, and common medical conditions, monitor/restrain patients for fluid therapy and record observations, perform hand pilling and administer oral medication (dog, cat), demonstrate understanding of treatment plan, apply and remove bandages to/from healthy animals (equine leg and tail wraps are optional), perform therapeutic bathing, basic grooming, and dipping of small animals, clean external ear canals, prepare food and prescription diets—be aware of any special dietary needs, clean and disinfect cages and kennels (stalls are optional), provide care and maintenance of nursing equipment, and demonstrate an understanding of euthanasia and post-mortem care.
  • Surgical Preparation and Assisting:
    • Assist in performing surgical preparations: Prepare surgical equipment/supplies, sterilize instruments & supplies using appropriate methods, identify common instruments, Identify common suture materials, types, and sizes, assist the veterinarian and/or veterinary technician with preparation of patients using aseptic technique, operate and maintain autoclaves, describe operating room sanitation and care, assist with positioning of surgical patients, aid the veterinarian/and or veterinary technician with physical monitoring of recovering surgical patients, maintain the surgical log
    • Facility and Equipment Cleanliness: Maintain proper operating room conduct and asepsis, perform post-surgical clean up, fold surgical gowns and drapes
    • Have knowledge of: Surgical equipment, surgical room and prep area, instrument cleaning and care, proper disposal of hazardous medical wastes
  • Laboratory Procedures:
    • Assistance in the laboratory: Collect voided urine samples, determine physical properties of urine including color and clarity, assist in the collection of blood samples for procedures, collect voided fecal samples for examination, prepare fecal flotation solutions and set up fecal flotations and direct smears, understand the role of the veterinary assistant in necropsy procedures, explain how to handle rabies suspects and samples safely, handle disposal of deceased animals, and assist in the preparation of various specimen staining techniques.
    • Laboratory record keeping: Ensure all laboratory results are accurately recorded, stock laboratory supplies, file laboratory reports, and maintain laboratory log.
  • Radiology and Ultrasound Imaging:
    • Follow recommended safety measures, assist the veterinarian and/or the veterinary technician in the completion of diagnostic radiographs and ultrasound including the restraint and positioning of patients, process diagnostic radiographs using manual dipping tank, automatic processor, or digital processing, maintain quality control, label, file, and store film and/or digital radiographs, properly care for equipment, and maintain x-ray log.

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Full Program Overview