Veterinary Health Care

Program Statement

The Veterinary Health Care program prepares non-credentialed, veterinary paraprofessional support staff members to practice under the supervision of veterinarians or other credentialed animal specialists in a variety of animal care and wellness settings. Participants gain the basic principles, attitudes, and experiences needed to work as veterinary support staff in veterinary hospitals, animal shelters, pet day care and training centers, wildlife rehabilitation and exotic centers, as well as large animal and laboratory animal facilities.

All ANS classes will also be open for enrollment as electives to Biotechnology students, except ANS 221: Veterinary Health Care Field Experience and Seminar.

This program is not recognized as a certified veterinary technician training program by the AVMA CVTEA and does not fulfill eligibility requirements for the National Veterinary Technician Examination.

Program Information

  • A Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) demonstrating a conviction of an animal cruelty related misdemeanor/felony prohibits admittance to the program.
  • Students are expected to attend Veterinary Health Care Student Orientation prior to their first-class meeting.
  • Due to the inherently unpredictable behavior of animals, there is an element of assumed risk in all animal studies. A waiver of liability is required and only students enrolled in the Veterinary Health Care program will be covered by Bristol Community College's malpractice insurance policy.
  • It is highly recommended to take classes during the summer session. Recommendations include:
    • HST 111: The West and the World I
    • HST 112: The West and the World II
    • HST 113: US History to 1877
    • HST 114:US History from 1877
    • MTH 131:  Elements of College Mathematics
    • MTH 119: Fundamental Statistics
    • MTH 154: Mathematics for Veterinary Professionals
    • SOC 252: The Sociology of Human Relations
  • Computer technology is integrated in animal science courses. Computer access is required outside of class time for independent training certificates, supplemental materials and independent presentation assignments.
  • Students must achieve a minimum grade of C (73) in all animal science courses in order to progress in the program and graduate. Students must pass all co-requisites and electives to remain in the program and graduate.
  • All students are required to earn a grade of C (73) or better in all ANS course requirements in order to be eligible to enroll in a field experience course and to satisfy graduation requirements. In addition, all students are required to earn a C (73) or better in all courses required to satisfy co/prerequisites in the Veterinary Health Care A.A.S. program.
  • A passing grade of a C (73) or better in the laboratory portion of all ANS classes with laboratory activities is required to receive a final passing grade for the course.
  • For the transfer pathway, take BIO 121: Fundamentals of Biological Science I as an option to meet the Scientific Reasoning and Discovery competency and as a prerequisite option for ANS 201: Anatomy and Physiology of Domestic Animals and ANS 240: Animal Nutrition and Feeding; take MTH 119: Fundamental Statistics or MTH 131:Elements of College Mathematics.
  • For the career pathway, take BIO 111: General Biology I; take MTH 154: Mathematics for Veterinary Professionals as an option to meet the Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning competency and as a prerequisite option for ANS 216: Veterinary Pharmacology and ANS 240: Animal Nutrition and Feeding.

Special Requirements for the Program

Health Requirements

  • Please refer to the program handbook for details and explanations regarding the Technical Standards for physical and mental criteria required by the program. Many animal industry and veterinary careers require good physical health, the ability to lift up to 50 lbs., multitask, be observant of surroundings, handle stressful situations with composure, have good interpersonal communication skills, emotional stability, and use fine motor skills. Students with issues in any of these areas should discuss them with the program director prior to enrolling.
  • Rabies and tetanus, among other vaccinations for health and safety, are highly recommended and outlined in the program handbook.

Criminal Records Check/Drug Testing

  • A CORI check demonstrating a conviction of an animal cruelty related misdemeanor/felony prohibits admittance to the program.
  • A criminal background check (CORI) and/or drug test may be required by and at the discretion of the field experience host location prior to participation in the field experience. If any host facility refuses to allow the student to participate in the field experiences at that facility, that student may not be able to progress in and/or graduate from the program.

Field Work

  • Transportation to field experience and field trip locations is the responsibility of the student. Carpooling with classmates is highly encouraged. Field work is integrated into many of the animal science classes in order to increase comprehension, skills, and professionalism.
  • Field experience hours may include day, evenings or weekends. Students should expect to travel up to one hour from campus to their individual host location.

Additional Costs

  • Students are responsible for the cost of uniforms, professional liability insurance, vaccinations and independently endorsed achievement testing certificates.

Functional Abilities Essential for Veterinary Health Care

Students enrolled in the Veterinary Health Care program should be prepared to meet the standards established by the following physical and mental criteria. Veterinary medicine is a practice discipline, with cognitive, sensory, affective, and psychomotor performance requirements. The functional eligibility requirements for participation in the Veterinary Health Care program are essential for the delivery of optimal and safe patient care.

  • Have the ability to stand, walk, or run for prolonged periods of time in various outdoor environments and weather conditions.
  • Have the ability to assess environmental, behavioral, or physical changes for potential problems, prioritize, report, and correct issues through integration of information and situational details.
  • Have the ability to collaboratively work with all program students, program faculty, and other animal care professionals in the classroom, during off-campus activities, lab and field experience settings.
  • Have the ability to respond calmly and appropriately to directions in stressful environments and situations or impending deadlines.
  • Have the ability to communicate and respond effectively in English using verbal, non-verbal and written formats with other students, program faculty and other animal care professionals.
  • Have sufficient motor ability to execute the movement and skills required swiftly and accurately for safe and effective performance of animal care practices.
  • Have sufficient auditory, visual, and tactile ability with or without correction to monitor and work safely with animals and assess health needs.
  • Demonstrate emotional stability, professional behaviors, and a strong work ethic in an emotionally charged environment.

After Bristol

Graduates work as non-credentialed veterinary paraprofessionals in a variety of animal facilities, such as veterinary hospitals, animal shelters, pet day care and training centers, farms, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and laboratory animal facilities.

Graduates of this program can transfer into other animal and veterinary science related degree programs, such as, animal behavior, animal science, pre-veterinary programs, lab animal science, equine science, etc. at another two-year or four-year institution.

Degree Requirements

General Courses

Course #
Sub-Total Credits
Total credits:

Course Sequencing

Item #
Sub-Total Credits

For Career Pathway:  Take BIO 111 and MTH 154

For Transfer Pathway:  Take BIO 121 and MTH 119 or MTH 131

Item #
Sub-Total Credits
Item #
SOC 252, MTH 119, MTH 131 or MTH 154  +
Sub-Total Credits


Academic Area

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Degree Offered

Associate in Applied Science in Veterinary Health Care


Program Code


Program Contact

Christine Houghton
Department Chair

Adrienne Foster Scharf
Dean of STEM

CIP Code