San Marcos High School's Veterinary Program allows students to gain hands-on experience as they work their way toward becoming certified veterinary assistants. Above, from left to right, Addison Odam, Karley Cowan and Sydney Meelbusch work Wednesday at the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter. Below, Dylan Nunez (left) and Clayton Engler (right) take part in SMHS's veterinary program. Daily Record photos by Alyssa Gonzales
Fixing furry friends: Veterinary program offers SMHS students certification opportunity
Many students in high school begin to think of what career path they want to take after graduation. At San Marcos High School, several students have begun to take the four-legged friendly route. SMHS's Veterinary Program allows students to gain hands-on experience as they work their way toward becoming certified veterinary assistants.
“They start with their principles class or, principles of agriculture and then they go into a livestock course with me,” said Jennifer Wiggins, an agricultural science teacher at SMHS. “Then they take our veterinary medical applications course with me. As long as they pass that course, and they meet all the criteria of that course by senior year, I will place them on an internship.”
To receive their certifications, students in the program must fulfill a certain amount of hours at a vet clinic. Level one students must obtain 500 hours, level two must have 1,500 hours.
“They need the 200 hours in vet med with me, and then they get 300 hours in a clinic under a veterinarian supervisor,” Wiggins said. “As soon as you test, then you begin your hours for your level two, and then you'll test again, once you get those hours.”
There has been a 100% passing rate for students that have taken the certification tests. Throughout the duration of the program, students get the opportunity to grow and learn together.
“I really love the staff, they’re all incredibly nice, they treat us really well,” said Dylan Nunez, sophomore intern. “Also, the group of interns that I’m working with. We didn’t really know each other beforehand but now I feel comfortable with them and that makes me happy.”
Students do their clinic hours in shifts. Throughout their day, students have many responsibilities and tasks to fulfill.
“They distribute medications to all animals. They go through records and look at every animal that's in-house,” Wiggins said. “They look to see what medications they need, check their dosages, distribute all those medications and make sure that they actually ingest them and they don't spit them out.”
There is no limit on how many students can join and no prior experience is necessary for students to begin taking the classes needed for the program.
“It is challenging to get enough clinics to take enough interns, so that is challenging but I’ve always been able to place them,” Wiggins said.
Many students within the program have found much success with finding jobs before and after graduation.
“I think one of my favorite things is helping them get prepared for the future because they're able to put all this on their resume. Wiggins said. “I've been able to help. So many of my kids get jobs before they even graduate high school and even more right at graduation.”
Above, San Marcos High School Veterinary Assistant Clinic Interns: Ancil Marcantel, Vanessa Uraanga, George Martinez, Shayenne Lucio, Adrian Martinez, Vanessa Cruz, Zach Lueckemeyer, Colton Engler, Lilia Reyes, Vivian Hernandez, Ruby Servin, Annaleah Lombardo, Shalom Garcia de Leon and Justien Hernandez. Not pictured: Daniella Gonzales, Kyla Hart, Kamaryn Dubose, Janis Gaytan and Jack Shaver. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Wiggins
San Marcos High School Veterinary Program credits its success to its Veterinary partnerships: Kings Highway Animal Clinic, San Marcos Vet Clinic, Southern Winds Veterinary Services, Tickle Blagg Animal Hospital, San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter and Williams-Sebby Veterinary Clinic.
Students and other community members looking for more information regarding the SMHS vet program and visit their Twitter (@SMHS_AG101), Facebook (San Marcos High School Veterinary Program), Instagram (smhs_veterinary_program_wiggy) or email Jennifer Wiggins at firstname.lastname@example.org.