April 28, 2022

VCA Standish Hospital and Maine Veterinary Medical Center are newest partners that will provide hands-on learning for students


North Conway, N.H. – Veterinary clinics across the country have seen an increase in the need for animal care and are dealing with a shortage of skilled workers. In New England, many clinics have been forced to cut service hours due to staffing shortages. To address this pressing workforce need for trained veterinary staff, the White Mountains Community College (WMCC) North Conway academic center has expanded veterinary training partnerships in Maine with VCA Standish Hospital (VCA) and Maine Veterinary Medical Center (MVMC). These partnerships will provide students entering WMCC’s two semester Veterinary Assistant certificate program with additional opportunities for hands-on learning at local clinics.

There is a real shortage of veterinary technicians and assistants nationwide, which creates many employment opportunities,” said Dr. Mary Orff, WMCC Veterinary Assistant program coordinator. “We are a ‘hands-on’ program providing practical experience during class time as well as at the student’s internship in the field at one of our partner clinics.”


WMCC’s Veterinary Assistant certificate

provides training in veterinary healthcare and the handling of a variety of domestic and exotic species. The program covers such topics as animal anatomy, behavior, animal husbandry, surgical assistance, diagnostic lab tests, nutrition, medical terminology and patient care and monitoring. As part of WMCC’s program, all second-semester students are required to accumulate a minimum of 100 hours in a clinical setting to refine the theory and skills learned at WMCC.


VCA, located in Standish, Maine, is a full-service companion animal hospital serving dogs and cats with comprehensive, high-quality veterinary care. Services at VCA include emergency care, dental care, surgery and full diagnostics.


“This partnership allows us to work together towards a common goal in the veterinary field and bridge the gap from school to employment,” said Dr. Sara Schipper, VCA veterinarian. “There is a dire shortage of trained veterinary support staff and veterinarians cannot provide an elevated level of care without good support staff behind them. The relationship between the WMCC program and our area hospitals allows us to provide a safe learning environment for the students, gives hospitals the ability to evaluate students for potential employment and helps us all to appreciate the time and effort that goes into training exceptional assistants.”


Veterinary assistants care for animals, help maintain a clean and safe work environment, and perform various tasks under the supervision of veterinarians and veterinary technicians in veterinary hospitals, animal shelters and laboratories. These positions are projected to continue growing faster than average at 14% through 2030, according to the US Bureau of Labor. WMCC’s veterinary assistant program is the only one in New Hampshire and the program is fully approved by the National Association of Veterinary Assistants in America (NAVTA), enabling students to earn the credentials of AVA (Approved Veterinary Assistant) upon successful completion of the national AVA exam.


At Rarebreed partner practice Maine Veterinary Medical Center, located in Scarborough, Maine, students have the opportunity to experience a fast-paced emergency care environment as well as work with a veterinary specialist in such areas as internal medicine, orthopedic surgery, neurology, critical care, oncology, rehab and ophthalmology. MVMC is the only tri-state region Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society (VECCS) level one 24-hour emergency and critical care facility and a designation that only a handful of facilities throughout the country have.


“We are excited to partner with WMCC to help train the next generation to provide great experiences in the veterinary field,” said Meghan Vaught DVM, DACVECC and MVMC Service Director. “We get to show the students all the different opportunities that they have in the working environment, whether that is general practice or specialty medicine, and it gives them the opportunity to see where they can go at a hospital like this.”


VCA and MVMC are among a dozen local clinics that have partnered with WMCC’s Veterinary Assistant program, which has partner facilities in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont. To learn more about the Veterinary Assistant certificate program, contact Mary Orff at morff@ccsnh.edu.