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CTE Month: Training that puts students up close and personal with animals

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February is national Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month where Portland Community College and other institutions spotlight their important career & technical education programs.

One student who is making a change for the better thanks to CTE is Maryrose Gilliland. She came up to Oregon from Goleta, California in 2018 to work in the veterinary field. After three years, she decided to attend PCC’s Veterinary Technology Program to further build her skills.

Maryrose Gilliland

Maryrose Gilliland.

She specifically chose PCC because it is regarded as a top-five veterinary technician school in the country by Accredited Schools Online. In addition, Gilliland said earning her two-year associate degree has been a better fit than attempting to go to a four-year university program due to what PCC offers its students.

“PCC actually provides all of the essential skills you need on campus for both small and large animals,” Gilliland said. “We have labs that regularly teach us the proper ways of taking care of these animals in the clinic and in a medical facility, which is awesome.”

For the last decade, veterinary clinics and animal shelters all over the country, including Portland, have struggled to find veterinarians and certified veterinary technicians to provide adequate care to the many animals that come through their doors. Thanks to the pandemic, increased demand for veterinary services has strained the profession even more.

The Veterinary Technology Program is one of only two programs of its kind in Oregon and only one of five in the Pacific Northwest. Soon, it will have a brand new facility where students can train on caring for animals, which will create a qualified pipeline of technicians for the industry. ​​The barn at Rock Creek Campus is currently being replaced with a new building designed to serve the needs of the program, improving the teaching areas and the quality of shelter for the farm animals.

Currently, the program, which has been fully accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) since 1992, provides students with the skills and knowledge needed to provide essential nursing care for all animals. Veterinary technicians work under the supervision of  licensed veterinarians to provide animal medical care as credentialed professionals in a wide variety of environments. The Oregon Employment Department projects employment of veterinary technicians in the Portland area will grow by 23% through 2029.

“It’s incredible to have these facilities right at my fingertips, right in front of me,” she added. “I’ve had multiple people I’ve worked with who are going through online programs and are having difficulties getting their large animal essential skills because it’s so difficult to come across a facility that will allow students to come in and be hands-on with the animals. Whereas at PCC they are like, ‘Alright, you’re taking ‘Large Animal Nursing and Restraint.’ Here you go. Hop in. Go touch that cow!’”

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, is the Interim Senior Director of Marketing & Communications at Portland Community College. A graduate of Portland State University, James has worked as a section e... more »