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App State and Banfield Pet Hospital® Announce New Online Vet Tech Program Aimed at Addressing Veterinary Shortage

A veterinary technician interacts with a cat client. Photo courtesy of Banfield Pet Hospital®

First-of-its-Kind Program Will Help Meet Surging Demand for Pet Care

By Elisabeth Wall

Appalachian State University and Banfield Pet Hospital® — the leading provider of preventive veterinary care in the U.S. and part of the Mars Veterinary Health family of practices — have announced a partnership aimed at strengthening the pipeline of licensed veterinary technicians and creating a more sustainable future for the veterinary profession. This is in direct response to a recent study from Banfield, which finds an estimated 75 million pets in the U.S. may not have access to the veterinary care they need by 2030, with an important factor being a critical shortage of veterinary professionals.

As part of the partnership, Banfield made a multimillion-dollar commitment toward the development of a new four-year online degree program at App State for licensed veterinary technicians (LVTs). This will address the market demand — particularly in rural communities — for skilled veterinary professionals.

“App State excels in developing visionary academic programs that address professional workforce shortages in rural communities and help advance industry standards,” said App State Chancellor Sheri Everts. “This partnership with the leading pioneer in preventive health care for animals is synergistic and forward thinking. With graduation and licensure achievement rates that far exceed national averages, our university is uniquely positioned to develop and deliver a signature program that will help advance the profession, elevate the role of the licensed veterinary technicians and address the market demand for skilled, rural veterinary professionals.”

Much like a human health care nurse, LVTs can offer services such as administering vaccinations or checking vital signs in partnership with a doctor.

“As part of the Mars Veterinary Health family of practices, Banfield believes strongly in elevating and recognizing the role of licensed veterinary technicians as critical members of the veterinary team,” said Dr. Daniel Aja, chief veterinary relations and transformation officer at Banfield. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with App State and investing in this first-of-its-kind program that will benefit veterinary professionals, pets and the broader industry as we continue to see the demand for pet care rise.”

App State Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Heather Norris said, “We have assembled an interdisciplinary team of App State faculty to develop a rigorous, signature program that will become a model for developing licensed veterinary professional talent and setting unprecedented industry standards.”

The App State Online program will be housed in the university’s College of Arts and Sciences and will combine Bachelor of Science credentials with preparation for veterinary technician licensure. App State faculty will create the curriculum plan, program and courses. The program’s first class is expected to begin in fall 2022.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data show that in 2020 there were more than 110,000 LVT jobs in the U.S. and project an increase of nearly 20% in the next five years. Industry reports project a gap in the supply of LVTs of more than 50,000 by 2029. Spending on household pets continues to rise — data from BLS and the American Pet Products Association indicate annual sales of pet products and services in the U.S. is nearly $100 billion, and Americans are increasing spending on pet care at rates that exceed increases in household income.

“When veterinary professionals get to practice at the top of their license, hospitals get the best results: Engaged clients and a unified team that delivers superior care,” Aja said. “In support of our purpose — A Better World for Pets — we believe the profession needs to leverage all veterinary professionals to the best of their abilities to ensure pets can get the care they need.”