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Program director talks on vet tech shortage

VIENNA — Kent State University at Trumbull campus hosted a recent veterinary technician information session at the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County to encourage enrollment to help offset a local, and statewide, veterinary technician shortage.

Veterinary technician program Director Melissa Best said a lack of vet techs has put a lot of pressure on veterinarians, veterinary professionals and the vet techs themselves.

“I’m hoping there isn’t a shortage in the future,” she said. “I have these events to try to bring in as many students as possible to create as many vet techs as possible so I can send them out to the vet world and help all of the veterinarians and places that do have a vet shortage.”

She said vet techs are important because they are nurses for animals.

“If you compare it to dentists, every dentist needs a dental hygienist to clean the teeth and do the nursing part of it,” Best said. “(It’s the) same with animal medicine.They (veterinarians) need veterinary technicians to help provide that care so when they’re seeing a patient during surgery, they can have that veterinary nurse taking care of all the other patients that are in the hospital, sick, needing medication or IV fluid.”

Best said the staffing problem began during the pandemic.

“During COVID-19, we got a big spike of more people adopting animals because they were home in quarantine and then all these animals needed vet care,” she said. “When we have less technicians, veterinarians do (our job) as well, so it’s harder to help all the pets we want to because there’s just not enough of us.”

She said the current starting pay rate of local vet techs is between $16 and $18 per hour, but is greater in larger cities, emergency facilities or corporate facilities.

Best said the pay rate has increased since the pandemic.

“Prior to COVID, students were being offered $13 an hour to start out of school,” she said. “After COVID and the shortage, we’re finding these companies and these veterinarians or the corporate-owned (facilities) to have to offer more to kind of draw in more potential employees.”

Jenna Gumina, 19, of Warren, attended the information session and said she wants to become a vet tech.

“I love animals and I’d rather interact with animals than people,” she said.

Paige Skelton, 17, of Niles, also attended the information session and said she also wants to become a vet tech because she “loves animals and would rather do that than work with people.”

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