Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Frequently Asked Questions

 How can I obtain large animal experience?

If your clinic does not offer large animal services you must arrange an alternative as you will need to have access during the large animal science course (ANHD 3160) to the normal farm animals in order to perform the technical skills that will be covered. These alternatives may include the following options:

  • Working or volunteering at least 20 hours (we would accept a volunteer position for this particular course) at a Large Animal or Mixed Animal practice where farm animals are treated. You would be required to submit videos of yourself performing required procedures (evaluations). The 20 hours does not include evaluations, assignments and course work while present at the practice.
  • Attending a Large Animal Short Course at the TRU Knutsford farm. This short course is five days long. The student will have the opportunity to work with common farm animal species. The student will be responsible for all personal expenses including transportation, accommodation, meals and protective clothing and footwear as well as the short course registration fee.
 How do I obtain laboratory animal experience?
  • Attending a laboratory animal short course at our TRU AHT facility. This short course is five days duration. The student will have the opportunity to work with common laboratory animals. The student will be responsible for all personal expenses including transportation, accommodation, meals and protective equipment as well as the short course registration fee.
  • Attending selected laboratory animal facilities in Canada on a practicum basis. TRU would arrange these practicums.
  • Many students will be able to complete the course by participating in the care of laboratory animal species that are presented at their clinics. Arrangements can also be made with local pet stores for access to lab animal species.
 Does TRU arrange your clinic affiliation sites for you?

No, this is the responsibility of the student. The Clinic Affiliation Form must be submitted in the student's completed application package. There is always the possibility that the site that you have chosen does not meet the minimum facility standards for a clinic affiliation site; therefore you should begin this process well in advance of the program enrollment deadline, especially if an alternative site needs to be located. It is highly recommended that you be employed in this clinic for a minimum of 6 months prior to the program start date.

 What if I quit, lose my job or have to take an extended period of time off from work — can I still take the course or finish the course that I am currently enrolled in?

Each situation will be evaluated individually. The minimum number of hours spent at a clinical instruction site must still be met in order to continue on in the program.

 Do I have to come to TRU for any part of my training?

No, the program can be completed without the necessity of traveling to TRU. We do offer selected Short Courses (Large Animal handling and Lab Animal Handling) and, of course, a graduation ceremony but these are all optional.

 What else do I have to do to become a registered animal health technologist?

You would need to successfully complete the Veterinary Technician National Exam and apply and be accepted by your Provincial Animal Health Technologist Association.

 How do I access Moodle?

To log in to Moodle:

Your Moodle ID is your student number (student number only, for example 971110). Your password has been set to your birthdate, now six characters long. (If you were born on June 9, 1980, your password will be 800609).

Clinical mentors — the clinic's obligations to the student

 Why is this type of program being offered?
  • We realize that it is often difficult for a clinic to hire RAHT’s
  • The work force is shrinking and there will be more competition from many sectors for workers
  • We feel that in future, successful businesses will have to be an active participant in the training of their staff and not rely on hiring the finished product
  • Our program is geared to the clinic that has a good employee that they would like to take on more skills
  • Our philosophy is that you are probably already training these employees to do more but are limited by time and legalities
    • We provide the framework for the training and the final accreditation
 What is in it for our clinic?
  • Staff turn over hurts the bottom line
  • Retraining is expensive
  • We feel that our program enables you to get the most from a good employee
    • Increases their job satisfaction
    • Allows them to take on more duties
    • Frees the DVM up to do what they are trained to do
    • Keeps a good employee in the practice for a longer period of time
    • It all translates into a more profitable business situation, a more stable workforce and a more comfortable workplace environment
    • We have found that the interest and clinical expertise of all the clinic staff increases when they have a student in their midst
  • There is no financial compensation from TRU to the clinic. The payoff is in the quality and benefit to your practice of a RAHT.
 What is expected of myself and my staff if we have a student enrolled in this program?
  • You do not have to “handhold” the student
  • For the first few courses your input will be minimal. As the student progresses through the program you will be called on to supervise the student more closely. (For example, in third year, the students will be inducing anaesthesia, monitoring surgical patients, placing catheters etc.) However, we feel that by the time the student reaches this point they will have had a great deal of instruction under their belts and will already be an increasing asset to the clinic and will therefore be worth the extra effort you are putting in to them.
  • Someone in your clinic (a DVM or RAHT with minimum two years post-grad clinical experience) is required to become the student’s Clinical Mentor. There can be more than one CM per clinic and they can change – we just need to be kept informed.
  • The CM(s) and the student sign a Clinic Affiliation Form (CAF) that outlines all the obligations of the participants.
  • The CM is a mentor, they do not prepare and deliver lessons nor do they give exams. We will provide the course content online and the students will write all their midterms and final exams at an independent site such as a local community college. Your clinic will not be involved in this.
  • The CM should be aware of the progress of the student and the courses in which they are currently enrolled. You are not expected to have read all the content but you should be aware that the student is taking Parasitology this semester, for example, and you will probably be dealing with some “bug” questions.
  • The student will be instructed to inform you of the assignments they are expected to do well in advance so there are no surprises.
  • The CM will be the person that the student comes to if they have a question or do not understand a concept. The CM will directly supervise invasive procedures on living animals. They are also the person the student comes to obtain permission to do an assignment using the clinic, and clinic or client animals.
  • We emphasize to the student that their assignments and studies are to be done on their own time. If they are paid for 20 hours, they are expected to work for the clinic for 20 hours. They will have to arrange time to do assignments on their own time.
 What do the assessments entail?
  • Our students are assessed in three major ways;
    • On line quizzes
    • Written midterms and final exams. Midterm exams are a maximum of 2 hours in length (for each course) and final exams are a maximum of three hours (for each course).
    • Assignments/Evaluations
  • These assignments/evaluations are completed in one of three ways;
    • The student is required to video themselves performing the assignment (jugular venipuncture in a dog for example). They send the video to us and we critique them.
    • A checklist, signed off by you, the CM, when the student has successfully completed the task. For example, in Anatomy, they may have to identify the major organs in the canine abdomen using a surgical case in situ, a cadaver, or radiographs. The CM would check off that this was successfully done.
    • Written assignments submitted to their TRU instructor(s).
  • The assignments are the responsibility of the student. They have to:
    • Organize any help that they need (restrainers, camera person).
    • Organize when this can be done. If it is more suitable to do this in the clinic, they need to obtain permission from their CM and negotiate a suitable time when it would create a minimum impact on the flow of the clinic
    • Organize the animal subject and obtain permission to use them. This may be their own animal, a clinic animal or a client animal.
    • Organizing all this is quite an exercise in logistics, human relations and time management. After three years of doing assignments in this manner, the student becomes very efficient at skills that are daily requirements in a busy veterinary practice.
    • The ideal student does all this and all you have to do is say “sounds OK to me”. If, on the other hand, the student comes to you and says “we have an assignment” and then looks expectantly at you to take over the arrangements, that is not going to be a successful student in our program.
    • There are special considerations for invasive procedures. If the assignment involves a living animal we require that the CM or a delegate (DVM or RAHT) of the CM be supervising the student. This is also a legal requirement of the CVMA and the provincial associations.
      • We have had instances where students were doing venipunctures and cystocentesis on their own animals after hours in the clinic unsupervised. This is unacceptable.
      • We send demonstration videos for all our required assignments. Please be aware that the video shows our way of doing it. Our steps may not be exactly the same as you use in your clinic. We do not consider our way to be the only way but it will be an accepted technique and we realize that it is good for the student to be exposed to options.
      • For many invasive procedures we require the student to videotape themselves using a stuffed animal. This allows us to view the preparation, technique and understanding of the assignment before a live animal is used. This cuts down considerably on stress for the animal and student, as well as the time spent running around getting things ready.
 Should I agree to this?
  • This program is not for all students or for all clinics
    • The student has to be mature, a good time manager and be able to work on their own
    • Ideally the student has worked for the practice for 6 months or more
    • The clinic and the student have to have a good working relationship where the management and the rest of the clinic staff are supportive of the student. The most important aspect to the success of a student in our AHTDE program is the support of their clinic.
    • The clinic has to believe that this program benefits them as well. If the attitude is “you can take the program but don’t expect us to help” — it won’t work. It may be beneficial to meet with your staff to see if they are willing to take this on. We have found that if the management of the practice is supportive of their student it has a trickle down effect to all the staff. Conversely, a non supportive management will make the learning atmosphere for the student very difficult.
    • If you feel that your clinic will not be able to provide positive support for the potential student then I would not advise taking on this obligation.
    • If on the other hand, you think that you would enjoy the role of a mentor, you believe in the concept of what we are attempting to accomplish and you are supportive of your employee and prospective student then you will find this to be a very rewarding endeavour.