Media contact: CeCe Todd, (480) 461-4032
As a male student in the East Valley Institute of Technology’s Veterinary Assistant program, Chris Baker is not the norm. Instead, female students are more likely than males to don scrubs and train in the EVIT School of Health Sciences to be medical professionals.
But Baker, 17, of Tempe’s Corona del Sol High School, says EVIT is a perfect first step toward his long-term goal of becoming a veterinarian. Through the Veterinary Assistant program, Baker was able to get an internship at a Chandler animal hospital. Three days each week, he helps with animal restraint and other procedures while also getting the chance to observe surgeries at the facility. He hopes the experience will help him to eventually land a spot in the University of Arizona’s veterinary school.
“The internship is my favorite part of the program – and vet schools like for (applicants) to have that experience,” Baker said. “To see it and do it, you learn so much more.”
As part of its commitment to train a workforce meeting the needs of business and industry, EVIT promotes the enrollment of non-traditional students training for careers in which one gender is less than 25 percent of those employed in the workforce.
By that definition, female students are considered “non-trads” in aviation, automotive, collision repair, diesel, culinary arts, 3D animation, fire science, heating/air-conditioning, law enforcement, multimedia, precision machining, radio, video, welding and engineering industries. Male students are non-trads in early childhood education, cosmetology, massage therapy, fashion/interior design, and all health occupations, including veterinary assistant.
But the students don’t seem to consider themselves as non-traditional once they are immersed in a program like veterinary assistant, said counselor Pauline Acosta. They quickly learn that the program is not for those who just want to cuddle a dog or cat; it’s a rigorous course in which students study many species and get hands-on experience in a range of medical procedures involving animals, such as venipuncture, radiographs and surgical assisting.
Austin Sattelberg, 21, a Corona del Sol graduate, decided to enroll in the vet assistant program this year because he’s interested in opening his own veterinary clinic. He already has experience in working as a vet assistant.
“It’s a great class,” he said. Instructor Jessica Berger “teaches you what you’re going to experience.”
Berger arranges internships for her students with 36 clinical sites around the Valley. “It helps the students collaborate and network with veterinarians and technicians in the field,” she said. And in some cases, the internship could even lead to a job offer.
Such hands-on experience is one of the strengths of EVIT’s School of Health Sciences, which offers a dozen programs for high school students and adults, including Dental Assistant, Emergency Medical Technician, Massage Therapy, Medical Assistant, Nursing Assistant, Pharmacy Technician, Physical Therapy Technician, and Human Anatomy & Physiology, as well as the Veterinary Assistant program. Three programs – Practical Nursing, Surgical Technologist and Sterile Processing Technician – are for adults only. The health programs are among 40 occupational training programs offered at EVIT’s two Mesa locations – the Dr. A. Keith Crandell (Main) campus, 1601 W. Main St., and the East Campus, 6625 S. Power Road.
The Veterinary Assistant program is offered exclusively at the East Campus, where Berger hopes to eventually have an on-site clinic. Students would be able to assist with surgeries performed on shelter animals before going on their internships.
EVIT students must reside in Mesa, Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Apache Junction, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Higley, Queen Creek and J.O. Combs districts. High school programs are tuition-free; adult programs are tuition-based with financial aid available to those who qualify.
EVIT students have a 95 percent high school graduation rate and two out of three go on to college.
Enrollment is under way for 2015-16. Visit www.evit.com for more information.