Cascade Vet Clinic Introduces In-house Apprenticeship Training Program

First in the Nation to Combat Low Staffing

Cascade Veterinary Clinic (CVC) is introducing a new Veterinary Technician Registered Apprenticeship program to address the shortage of licensed vet techs in Chelan County.

“One of the bottlenecks that we have is that nationwide there is this shortage of registered or licensed vet techs or LVTs, [which are] licensed veterinary technicians,” CVC Co-owner Dr. Zack Hambleton explained. “These licensed vet techs are really instrumental in doing our job as veterinarians and seeing patients.” On May 5, the Washington State Veterinary Board of Governors voted 5-2 to accept CVC’s draft proposal of the program.

Training will be based mainly in Wenatchee, but will send prospective vet tech students to their other locations in Leavenworth and East Wenatchee. The new program will also be working in conjunction with the apprenticeship nonprofit Skillsource.

CVC currently has 15 veterinarians and 80 employees total. Dr. Hambleton illustrates how difficult it has been for Licensed Veterinary Technicians (LVT) to get the training they need.

“To go to a licensed vet tech school, that would involve moving to Yakima, which is the nearest one in our area, and going to a two-year program. There are some online programs as well, but folks who have tried to do these online programs, the attrition rate there is enormous, they're very difficult to get through in just an online only format.”

The proposed apprenticeship program would provide 6,000 hours of paid on-the-job training with a current vet tech, along with 760 hours of supplemental learning that would be provided by WVC, totalling to three years of training within this program. Dr. Hambleton estimated the cost for this program to be an average of $1200-2000 for the WVC training and will be looking for grants to subsidize the salary for a program administrator. .

The main criticism and drawback to this program is that due to CVC being a private institution, the clinic is unable to provide accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which would give vet techs the ability to transfer their license nationwide. However, Dr. Hambleton argues that the demand for LVT’s in rural areas is far greater than what can be provided for. “We have the veterinarians who have the skill, the veterinarians who have the desire to teach and because of all of our hard work, we are going to have this rigorous oversight through the Washington State Apprenticeship Training Council as well. So we've been able to counter a lot of the narrative from the WSVMA and from the AVMA that we're not equipped,” Dr. Hambleton states. “We are not trying to usurp AVMA accredited programs, like going to tech school, we are not trying to usurp the online programs. This is just another pathway to credentialism.” CVC hopes to submit a draft of their program to the Washington State Apprenticeship Training Council by July of 2022.


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