Vet Tech School in Tennessee: Becoming a Vet Tech
Tennessee is a key state in the Veterinary Nurse Initiative, a movement toward implementing universal high standards for ‘vet techs’ and giving them a title that reflects their role. Right now, Tennessee vet technicians are licensed as Licensed Veterinary Medicine Technicians, or LMTs. They’re the only veterinary techs in the nation who wear this particular title, but they function in a similar capacity as those who are credentialed as LVTs, CVTs, or RVTs in other states. The state is among the many that set high credentialing standards.
Tennessee code stipulates that veterinary technicians work under delegation and supervision. Unlike veterinarians, they can’t diagnose or prescribe. Surgery is another job that requires a veterinarian’s training and education. Veterinary technicians, though, can — and frequently do — offer assistance with surgery. They may also have pre- and post-surgery care duties. Other common tasks include administering medications, taking specimens, performing basic dental care, and restraining animal patients and helping keep them comfortable. One can also find vet techs in the lab running basic tests.
Veterinary technicians may have as little as two academic years of post-secondary education. Tennessee programs are typically five semesters. There is an in-state option to continue on for a bachelor’s. Columbia State Community College notes that radiology, clinical pathology, and surgical assistance are among the areas of training. Vet techs need a solid science background.
Individuals may be hired as assistants without vet tech training. Some students are fortunate enough to work for pay in a veterinary clinic while completing their veterinary technology degrees.
Vet Tech Work Settings
Tennessee classifies veterinary practices as small animal, large animal, or mixed. Although veterinary practices are by far the most common work settings, other possibilities exist, including diagnostic laboratories. Individual practices, though, may set narrower population focuses. Some focus on dogs and cats. Some are cats-only. Others see a range of birds, pocket pets, and unusual critters.
Becoming a Tennessee LVMT
A prospective LVMT will need to complete a veterinary technology program that has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
The prospective LVMT must fill out an online application. The Board will require basic evidence of character and professionalism at the time of application. Applicants must have criminal background checks. Applicants who hold, or have held, credentials in other U.S. or Canadian jurisdictions will need to submit verification.
The candidate will test after eligibility has been determined. Tennessee utilizes the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE). The score is set at the level set by the American Association of State Veterinary Boards. Information about registration is found on the AASVB website (https://www.aavsb.org/vtne-overview/).
Licenses are renewed biennially. Tennessee sets a continuing education requirement.
Tennessee Vet Tech Employers
The following are among Tennessee’s many employers:
The University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center provides some very specialized care for a wide variety of animal populations. The organization boasts a large clinical team with very varied credentials. Some technicians are classified as senior veterinary technician. There is at least one LVMT onboard who is also a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Professional (CCRP). One school far away in Wisconsin recently reported that the University of Tennessee-Knoxville Small Animal Clinic had recently hired one of their graduates as a veterinary technician intern.
Village Veterinary Medical Center in Farragut is an AAHA-accredited facility with a fairly large support team that includes nine licensed veterinary technicians.
Tennessee Equine Hospital operates facilities in Galatin and Arlington. They are staffed round the clock. The hospital is able to provide a number of advanced and specialty services for horses, including sports medicine, advanced diagnostics and complementary medicine. Several of the licensed technicians have bachelor’s degrees.
Kinslow Veterinary Clinic is a mixed animal clinic. Here they see horses and cattle as well as cats and dogs.
Nashville Cat Clinic and Cats on Commerce in Clarksville are among the cats-only veterinary practices.
Vet Tech Salary in Tennessee and Career Outlook
The median salary for a Tennessee veterinary technician was $30,610 in 2018. Those at the 90th percentile made well over twice what those at the 10th percentile did ($45,110 vs $19,950). (The 10th percentile is sometimes thought of as entry level, though the actual level a person will start at will vary a good deal.)
The Nashville metropolitan area has average salaries well above the state average. The North Central nonmetropolitan region is also above average.
The Tennessee veterinary technology occupation has been projected to grow by 32.1% across the 2016 to 2026 decade – far greater than the very healthy 20% projected for the nation as a whole.
Top Vet Tech Schools in Tennessee
Lincoln Memorial University offers a credential-qualifying program that results in an Associate of Science. The school also provides students who hold AVMA-accredited degrees with an opportunity to continue on for a Bachelor of Science in veterinary technology. Admission to the AS program depends on both academic indicators and indicators of program success. The process includes submission of a professional statement and two confidential evaluations. Lincoln has a Veterinary Medical Technology Club which is involved with local shelters.
Chattanooga State Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science. The school boasts a 93% VTNE pass rate.
The Columbia State Community College AAS program includes lots of hands-on experience. Students give care to animals who will eventually be placed for adoption. During the last three terms of the five term program, students have off-campus experiences at veterinary facilities.
Student and Professional Resources
Information about Tennessee licensure is available from the Tennessee Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (https://www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/health-professional-boards/veterinary-board.html).
The Tennessee Veterinary Technicians Association is the state professional association (https://www.tnvta.org).