HARRISBURG — In a time when public colleges in Illinois are being asked to do more with less, Rend Lake College and Southeastern Illinois College have come together to cost-effective option for students wanting to get a foot in the door to the veterinary field.

The cooperative veterinary technician program began its first semester in August. In a news release sent Aug. 28, Karen Weiss, SIC vice president of academic affairs, said the new cooperative program is a way to better serve Southern Illinois students, as well as residents.

“The new collegiate partnership agreement has allowed us to provide new programs, minimize expense, and serve students and the community in ways none of us could feasibly do on our own,” Weiss said.

The primary benefit of the new vet tech program is its length. In the news release, Weiss said most jobs in the region give about equal pay to those with either an assistant veterinary technician certificate or a full vet tech certificate.

In the release, RLC President Terry Wilkerson said the college worked with local professionals and developed a new curriculum with SIC that will better serve local students. He said they cut down what the release described as an excessive, outdated program and tailored it for the current needs of students.

Veterinary assistant instructor Adrea Petro, quoted in the news release, said the new program gives students the building blocks needed to take skills into a future internship or apprentice program.

The new program will also provide students with a grooming certificate, opening up more jobs to graduates. This class, taught by Jane Welborn of Tanglewoods Spa and Salon in Harrisburg, gives students real world experience, working with actual clients’ animals and professional equipment.

An instant hit, the release said the program exceeded its enrollment capacity and had a waitlist.

According to the news release, “the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that job openings for non-farm animal caretakers in general, including pet groomers, will increase by about 11 percent between 2014 and 2024, a faster than average growth rate.”



On Twitter: @ismithreports