VET ASSISTANT DIPLOMA
Prison Pet Partnership has expanded programming to include a program that provides a diploma to program participants as Veterinary Assistants. After receiving Level II Pet Care Technician, Level II Groomer, or Level II Dog Handler certification, a twelve-month veterinary assistant program is available. Upon release, program participants attend an eight-week employed externship at an accredited animal hospital. Following graduation, a diploma is awarded, and permanent employment is offered at the participating hospital.
The twelve-month program includes:
Office and hospital procedures
Pharmacy and pharmacology knowledge
Surgical preparation and assistance
Radiology and ultrasound imaging
The already established training program was developed by Penn Foster (PF), a 125-year-old vocational education institution. PF is one of three colleges in the US that offers industry accredited veterinary assistant courses leading to certification.
Despite demand for credentialed Vet Assistants, 66% of practice managers and owners in a recent PF survey reported having trouble filling positions. Although individuals can attend higher education facilities to obtain degrees in the veterinary field, this program provides participants the opportunity to learn a trade in a highly demanded field (the projected growth for Vet Assistant positions is 19% by 2028 - compared to the average growth of 4% for most occupations) with the prospect of immediate employment by an accredited hospital upon graduation - earning a starting salary of approximately $30,000 per year depending on the area.
There is also a problematic lack of racial diversity across the veterinary industry, which is regarded as one of the least diverse professions in the U.S. Recent AVMA data on the population of veterinarians in the U.S. shows that less than 10% of veterinarians are non-white, with only 2% being Black.
Prison Pet Partnership and Washington Corrections Center for Women are addressing racial disparities in the veterinary industry while providing marginalized populations opportunity for successful careers as veterinary assistants.