Cornell Veterinary Medicine expands veterinary technician preceptorship program

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Written by Melanie Greaver Cordova

After over 15 years of preparing future veterinary technicians to enter the workforce, the six-week Veterinary Technician Preceptorship Program at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine remains one of the few of its kind based in a New York referral animal hospital. This year, the program is expanding its enrollment capacity, adding rotation training options, joining forces with the wildlife preceptorship and growing from one offering each summer to two.

“Cornell’s Veterinary Technician Preceptorship Program is enriching and supportive — it does more than check a box for future LVTs, which is why veterinary technician students from across New York and Pennsylvania apply,” said Kalli Anderson-Dyer, LVT in the dentistry and oral surgery service.

The Cornell program started in earnest in the early 2000s, led by Laura Barlow, LVT in the oncology service, who began with a small group of just six students. As the program grew over the years, enrollment expanded to accommodate between 12-20 students.

During their time at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals (CUHA), students will choose two rotations, with options including large animal surgery, large animal medicine, large animal anesthesia, small animal surgery, small animal internal medicine, small animal anesthesia, oncology or exotics. Moreover, wildlife students at the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital have exposure to anesthesia, surgery, internal medicine and rehabilitation rotations.

This program is unique because participants have access to continuing education opportunities, state-of-the-art equipment, the expertise of Cornell LVTs and clinical faculty members, as well as exposure to nearly every animal they’re likely to encounter on the job — from large and small animals to exotic pets and wildlife. As it has grown over time, the program now includes courses in CPR, parasitology and dentistry, among others. Students are mentored by LVTs and encouraged to ask questions of veterinary students, residents and chiefs of service as well.

Since 2010, approximately 75 participants have successfully completed the program, despite a temporary pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the preceptorship program combines with that of the Janet L. Swanson Wildlife Hospital, which had previously operated separately. Wildlife students will attend orientation, and those within CUHA will receive a few days of exposure in dentistry, central sterilization, pharmacy, radiology and continuing education courses for two weeks, and then proceed to their chosen rotations. By combining the programs, not only will students be able to fulfill their learning checklists, but also be exposed to Cornell as a whole.

The first summer program this year begins May 31. Learn more about the preceptorship online.