The cats, canines, and other critters of Baltimore County will have a cleaner bill of health now that CCBC Essex officially cut the ribbon on its new Veterinary Technology Center on Wednesday, November 7.

The upgrade and expansion of the 5,000 square foot space at the base of the school’s Math & Science Hall have allowed the school to double the program enrollment capacity from 25 students to 50.

At the cost of approximately $1.2 million, the space is now equipped with a combined student lab and classroom, a surgical and recovery area, a microscope lab, an in-house lab, radiography room, a wellness clinic with two exam rooms, office space, flexible learning space, kennel rooms.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, CCBC president Dr. Sandy Kurtinitis explained that the project was a long time coming. Before this remodel, the space hadn’t been updated since 1975.

Over 5 years ago, she said the school put $1 million from it’s account into a special fund to be used to double the vet tech program.

“Now, it’s a transformational center,” she said. “ I think you’ll understand when I say, ‘If we’re going to offer a program, we need to be able to offer it at the absolute highest level of cutting-edge curriculum, facilities, equipment, and all that goes with it.”

She added that under director Carol Schwartz and Dean of the School of Health Professions Shawn McNamara, the program has “come of age” with a 100% pass rate. She said the investments that CCBC made into the program get returned with educated and trained students that go out across the state, using their degrees to find employment in a variety of healthcare settings such as veterinary clinics and hospitals, emergency and referral hospitals, zoological parks, aquariums, and laboratories.

“Our vet techs get educated in everything. They learn how to do X-rays, they learn how to interpret and perform blood tests, they surgically assist in the OR and are anesthesiologists for our animals,” said McNamara, who added that learning all this in just two years was an impressive feat.

One such vet tech was second-year student Emily Hively who spoke about her experience as a soon-to-be vet tech.

Following the event, attendees were taken on a tour of the facility, with faculty members and students pointing out the new features they are most excited to utilize.

“Quality patient care and quality education are the tenets of the program,” said Schwartz. “The goal is to provide students with top-level educational and internship experiences, providing a foundation upon which experience is gained. We have an obligation to our students to be current with knowledge and practice standards. We must also present a pragmatic and compassionate approach to patient care in a positive and encouraging learning environment.”

The Veterinary Technology program at CCBC Essex is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities. It is also a Maryland Higher Education Commission statewide designated program meaning any Maryland resident can enroll in the Veterinary Technology program at CCBC’s in-county rate.

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