CROWNPOINT, NM – On May 4, 2017, Navajo Technical University received word from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education that its Associate of Applied Science degree program in Veterinary Technology was approved for accreditation.
The distinction is a first for a tribal university, which is significant because accreditation under the AVMA represents the highest standard of achievement for veterinary medical education in the United States. Institutions that earn accreditation with the AVMA confirm their commitment to quality and continuous improvement, while also ensuring their students have met rigorous national standards.
NTU began the process toward AVMA accreditation in 2009 when Dr. Germaine Daye was hired to direct NTU’s Veterinary Technology program. Immediately Dr. Daye noticed the program’s impact in addressing regional veterinary needs; however, she also noticed that her students’ potential was limited because they could not qualify for the veterinary technician’s national exam since NTU was not an AVMA-accredited institution.
“It limited our past vet tech graduates, which was very sad and unfortunate,” reflected Dr. Daye, who also directs NTU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. “Those students could still go out and get a job as a veterinary assistant or technician, but it’s really limited. With licensure, the students have more responsibility at a higher pay and more benefits.”
In preparing NTU for accreditation, Dr. Daye had to first conduct a comprehensive program review to gauge how the Vet Tech program aligned with AVMA guidelines. In doing so, she and her staff reviewed each course’s syllabus within the program, making alterations and improvements when needed. The staff also worked at obtaining USDA NIFA funds to secure necessary equipment for NTU’s Teaching Hospital, while also developing a 130-page manual that detailed protocols for animal care and handling.
“It was really detailed,” explained Dr. Zoey Benally, who helped put together the manual with Dr. Daye. “It was really challenging at times, but the goal we had in mind was to make the program better for the students. They’re the reason we’re at NTU. That was always in our minds and kept us going.”
While NTU’s hard work did pay off by being granted initial accreditation, a lot of work still needs to be done in order for it to maintain its standing. This includes regular program reporting and small infrastructure improvements like installing lighting around the Vet Teaching Hospital for purposes of security. NTU’s initial accreditation will be active until 2022, after which, NTU must welcome back the AVMA’s Council on Education for another visit.
Until then, Dr. Daye and her staff will celebrate the Vet Tech program’s achievement and the impact they foresee it having on their students. “I feel like this was a wonderful thing to accomplish for our students,” explained Dr. Daye, who described the accreditation process as humbling. “I would just like to thank the staff and students for their support and understanding. Without them we couldn’t have accomplished this.”
For more information about NTU’s AVMA-accredited Veterinary Technology program contact Dr. Germaine Daye at [email protected] or visit the NTU website at www.navajotech.edu/academics/degree-programs/associate-of-applied-science/veterinary-technology.