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Vet tech program aims to combat staff shortages in growing industry

By Erin Cleavenger, The Dominion Post

Through a collaborative effort between West Virginia University, West Virginia State University (WVSU) and the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA), a new program — VetStart West Virginia — will offer the state’s first four-year veterinary technology program in hopes of combatting a severe shortage of veterinarian technicians and veterinarians in the state for both small and large animal medicine.

Guidance from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) suggests to be most efficient there should be four vet techs for every veterinarian in a clinic.

“In the state of West Virginia today, we’ve got one registered technician for every three licensed veterinarians — the ratio is the wrong direction, ” said Matthew Wilson, professor of animal sciences at WVU. “And in large animal medicine that’s one technician for every nine veterinarians in the state of West Virginia.”

West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt said that with the increase of people getting pets during the pandemic, many dual practice vets quit doing large animals because they were so overwhelmed with small animals.

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