The Cal Poly Pomona Animal Health Science program was named “Best Affordable Veterinary Studies Degree” for quality and cost by AffordableSchools.com. The accredited major is the only four-year veterinary technician program on the West Coast, and graduates are eligible to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE).
“We are the definition of learn-by-doing,” says program director and veterinarian Dr. Joanne Sohn.
Students in the major get a wide range of hands-on experience from animal handling skills with multiple species, performing dental cleanings and extractions, administering vaccines, taking x-rays, placing IV catheters, administering anesthesia, assisting in animal surgeries, and suturing skin.
To give students the most hands-on experience possible, the department partners with local animal shelters and rescue groups to spay and neuter dogs and cats. Throughout the senior capstone surgery course, students assist with 30-35 surgical or dental procedures.
For the last five years, the program has also held a Pet Spa Day and Vaccine Clinic, when the community can bring their dogs and cats for nail trims, blood tests (i.e. heartworm for dogs and feline viruses), anal gland expressions and microchipping. People bring 100 to 120 pets each day at the twice-a-year event.
“It’s a really great experience for students and a nice way to give back to the community,” said Sohn.
“I’m really proud of our students. Many of them start out very quiet at the beginning but with experience, they grow confident and have a wide range of skills,” said Sohn. “Often, when they leave an internship, they receive their evaluation and a job application.”
The first-time Bronco pass rate for the VTNE averages 91 percent over the last three years. The national average in 2018 was approximately 70 percent.
The Animal Health Science program is part of the Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture.