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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Veterinary Technology Open Learning Diploma

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Program Description Admission Requirements Program Requirements Courses
Program Description

Program Description

Train to become a Registered Veterinary Technologist (RVT), a professional in the field of veterinary medicine. Thompson Rivers University’s Veterinary Technology program (both Onsite and Open-Learning) is accredited by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and is recognized by all provincial associations.  The three-year open-learning program is also accredited by the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). 

Admission Requirements

Admission Requirements

Competition for admission to the Veterinary Technology Open Learning program is extremely intensive and meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission into the program.

Please ensure you meet all the educational & other admission requirements before you proceed with your application.

Educational Requirements

  • Grade 12 or equivalent
  • English Studies 12 or English First Peoples 12 or equivalent, with a minimum of C+
  • Foundations of Mathematics 11 or equivalent, with a minimum of C+
  • Life Sciences 11 (formerly Biology 11) or equivalent, with a minimum of C+
  • Strongly recommend Anatomy and Physiology 12 (formerly Biology 12) or BIOL 0600 as in the first semester students must have a working knowledge of animal anatomy to perform physical examinations including eye and ear exams on live patients, under the supervision of a clinical mentor. For patient safety, tasks such as understanding anatomical locations and basic physiology MUST be developed prior to the program to ensure student success.

Any pre-requisite courses in progress MUST be completed with an official transcript submitted by October 1 of the year prior to the January start date.

General Requirements

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship (copy of birth certificate or passport) or permanent resident status
  • Completed Clinic Affiliation Package
    • Validation form of working in a CVMA accredited mixed or small animal veterinary clinic for a minimum of 260 paid hours per semester.
    • ClinicMentor(CM) Signature Package
    • Health & Safety awareness form
    • Fear Free Certification Form
      • Consent Form for Online Classroom Activities
    • Orientation Questionnaire (be thorough and detailed)
    • Student Awareness Document
  • Up-to-date vaccination record, including rabies
  • Three reference forms required
  • If educated in a country where English is not an official language – accepted English Language Proficiency test results

All required courses and admission documents must be completed and submitted by the application deadline (October 1)

The application process for TRU VTEC is not a first come, first serve system. Please take your time to fill out all documents thoroughly to ensure the application committee has a good understanding of your life and educational experiences.

Program Requirements

Program Requirements

The student must be employed by the Clinic Affiliation Site (CAS) for a minimum of 260 paid hours per semester (13-week period) as a veterinary assistant for the duration of the semester in which the student is currently enrolled. Volunteering at a facility does not qualify entry into this program. This online program will not be effective unless the student is employed in a modern, progressive veterinary clinic for the duration of the course in which they are currently enrolled.

Veterinary Technicians are expected to not only understand their field but also be able to perform the tasks that they have learned. This can only be accomplished by physically performing the tasks and repeating them to attain proficiency. The CAS must provide a TRU Open Learning VTEC Program approved Clinical Mentor (either a DVM or RVT with a minimum of two years post-grad clinical experience) for the student. The Clinical Mentor must be identified in the TRU Clinic Affiliation Form CAF.

The TRU VTEC Program must have received a Clinic Affiliation Form with the student application. This agreement details the responsibilities of the CAS and the Clinical Mentor in regards to student mentoring. In addition, it will also verify that the clinic meets or exceeds the CVBC/CVMA Practice Standards.

This agreement will be automatically renewed annually for the duration of the student's participation in the program unless there has been a change in the student's circumstances.

This program utilizes an on-line delivery system. Therefore, the student must have ready access to high speed internet. All daily communication between instructors and students is on-line; quizzes and many assignments are completed and submitted over the internet using Moodle. Therefore students taking the online program should have basic computer, program and video uploading knowledge.

Qualifications for the Clinic Affiliation Site

  • CVBC/CVMA approved full-service clinic
  • Small (dog and cat) or mixed animal practice
  • Employ student a minimum of 260 hours per semester throughout the three-year VTEC OL Program (volunteering at a clinic does not qualify you for admission)
  • Must provide proof of long-term employment (greater than six months) with application

Qualifications for the Clinical Mentor(s)

  • DVM (licensed to practice in Canada) or
  • Credentialed RVT with minimum two years post graduate clinical experience
  • You may have multiple CMs


Available in Canada only for students enrolled in the Veterinary Technology diploma Open Learning program.

Veterinary Technology Open Learning Program — 75 credits

Prerequisite Courses

Must be completed by Nov. 30 of the first year of the program. Once registered in these courses you have 30 weeks to complete them.

Veterinary Technology Terminology
3 credits
Veterinary Technology Mathematics
3 credits
First Year Courses

Semester 1 - January

Veterinary Office Management
3 credits
Anatomy and Physiology 1
2 credits
Veterinary Clinical Work and Correspondence
2 credits

Semester 2 - May

Veterinary Parasitology
2 credits
Anatomy and Physiology 2
2 credits
Veterinary Clinical Work and Correspondence
2 credits

Semester 3 - September

Veterinary Technology Nursing
3 credits
Animal Behaviour for Veterinary Technologists
2 credits
Veterinary Clinical Work and Correspondence
2 credits
Second Year Courses

Semester 4 - January

Clinical Pathology 1 - Hematology and Chemistry
3 credits
Immunology and Animal Disease
2 credits
Veterinary Clinical Work and Correspondence
2 credits

Semester 5 - May

Clinical Pathology 2 - Urinalysis and Microbiology
3 credits
3 credits
Veterinary Clinical Work and Correspondence
2 credits

Semester 6 - September

Veterinary Surgical Assistant
3 credits
Anesthesia for Veterinary Technologists
3 credits
Veterinary Clinical Work and Correspondence
2 credits
Third Year Courses

Semester 7 - January

Diagnostic Imaging for Veterinary Technologists
3 credits
Dentistry for Veterinary Technologists
3 credits
Veterinary Clinical Work and Correspondence
2 credits

Semester 8 - May

Veterinary Technology Career Prep
3 credits
Intensive Care for Veterinary Technologists
3 credits
Veterinary Clinical Work and Correspondence
2 credits

Semester 9 - September

Large Animal Care
3 credits
Large and Lab Animal Onsite Wetlab (required wetlab fee)
2 credits
Exotic and Lab Animals
3 credits
Veterinary Clinical Work and Correspondence
2 credits

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I obtain large animal experience?

In third year there is a one-week mandatory wet lab onsite at TRU in the summer or fall. This onsite lab will cover large animal and lab animal essential skill requirements.

How do I obtain laboratory animal experience?

Attending a laboratory animal short course at our TRU VTEC 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.

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 six 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?

Yes in third year there is a one-week mandatory wet lab onsite at TRU in the summer or fall.

What else do I have to do to become a registered veterinary technologist?

You would need to successfully complete the Veterinary Technician National Exam and apply and be accepted by your provincial veterinary 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 RVT’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 RVT.
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 RVT 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. 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;
    • Online quizzes
    • Written final exams, which are a maximum of three hours (for each course).
    • Assignments and 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 RVT) 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 six 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 VTEC OL 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.
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