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BENNINGTON — The Southwest Vermont Career Development Center will soon add a certified veterinary assistant program to the lineup of adult education courses.

Director Michael Lawler announced last week that the center would soon be rolling out the program, which is part of a partnership with Penn Foster College. Penn Foster does not have a physical location besides their administrative offices in Arizona, but is nationally accredited by the The Distance Education Accrediting Commission. The veterinary assistant program has been approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America.

"I'm working with local-area veterinary hospitals and they are very happy about this," said Lawler, "because it is one of about three NAVTA-approved programs around. It's about a seven-month program that is done in conjunction with Penn Foster as well us as. We provide the brick and mortar, if you will, and academic support. The program also requires an eight-week 'externship' at a local veterinary hospital."

The program is expected to kick-off in January. The price has not been determined yet, but Lawler said that it would be very affordable and attractive to people living in the Bennington area. Local animal hospitals have expressed interest in the program, and have said they would be willing to offer the required "externships."

"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," reads the description of Penn Foster's website. "The program also prepares the students to take the national test to become an Approved Veterinary Assistant."

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The courses of the class are broken down into: Behavior, Handling, and Restraint; Body Systems (Parts One and Two); Nutrition, History, and Physical Examination; Emergency and Wound Care; Small and Large Animal Nursing; Radiology and Surgical Preparation; and Veterinary Practice Administration and Procedures.

Lawler said that the center is excited to run the program, even if there isn't enough demand to sustain running it every year. "Will it run every year?" he said. "No. We don't want to flood the area with veterinary assistants, but it is a national certification and I think there will be interest in it."

If all goes well the center plans to eventually roll out a pharmacy technician program through Penn Foster. "There's a lot of things we can do, but I want to start off slow and see what's successful first," said Lawler. "There are all sorts of things we can do with them."

To learn more about Penn Foster and their programs, you can visit their website Information about the certified veterinary assistant program can be found at

Derek Carson can be reached at, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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