‘Vet tech’ degree to target emerging skills gap
The University of Adelaide has introduced a new degree program to address 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 allied veterinary professionals.
Graduates will be educated in the latest techniques used in animal health and welfare; in high-level veterinary care including emergency and critical care; a comprehensive understanding of animal diseases and disease processes; and develop practical skills in caring for all kinds of animals.
The program is expected to lead to careers in general veterinary practice, specialty practice, and allied fields such as veterinary practice management, biosecurity, animal health pharmaceuticals and nutrition, research and government agencies.
“Veterinary technologists are highly trained and skilled allied veterinary professionals 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 extensive animal handling and 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,” Professor 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 team members who will make the vet's job easier, more efficient and more rewarding,” added veterinary technology program coordinator Brett Smith.
“An additional benefit will be that many practices, particularly in rural and regional areas, are having serious difficulty recruiting and retaining veterinarians creating a skills gap.
"In some cases, vet techs will help keep these practices viable and profitable, to the benefit of the vet, the vet tech, the clients, the animals and the community.”
The new degree launched in Semester 1, 2020 and is open to international students from 2021.
This article was first published in July 2019 and was updated in January 2021.