My Journey through Tech School by Stephanie, AHT

Like anyone you would find in a vet clinic I have always had a love for animals though I was not always sure I wanted a career with them. I used to tell myself all those excuses that I am sure many people use to talk themselves out of a career with animals.  So after high school I decided to go to university. I figured I would go to school and try and figure out what it was I was interested in. It wasn’t long before I was realizing that I needed a career that had something to do with animals. I arranged to shadow an equine vet that following summer to figure out if maybe becoming an AHT was something I wanted to do.  An hour into my first day I had made up my mind, I wanted to be an AHT. So when fall came around I began to volunteer at a small animal clinic to garner the required work experience and applied for tech school.

The application process for an AHT program at nearly any school is extremely competitive. Most schools only accept 30 students each fall and those spots fill up extremely fast. I myself stayed up till midnight the day registration opened for my program, as many as my future classmates did as well, to insure that my application was one of the first 30 to be submitted. A week and a bit later it was confirmed that I was accepted!

I chose to attend the AHT program at Olds College. Olds College to an extent is a fully functioning farm and their AHT program puts as equal a focus on large animals as it does small animals. As a past 4H kid I loved working with horses and the idea of working with cattle and sheep made Olds College seem the right school for me to attend.

Almost a year after being accepted I was finally heading off to tech school. That first semester was something else! I had been to university but I can honestly say that first semester of the AHT program was more intense then any schooling I had done at any point in my life.  If you hadn’t developed good study skills or habits up to that point, you quickly figured how things were and adapted.

That first year was filled with lessons of anatomy and physiology, urinalysis, animal behavior breeds and management, radiology, pharmacology, parasitology, nutrition and workplace communication skills.  Lectures would run Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then Tuesdays and Thursdays were pretty much considered “lab days”. “Lab days” usually started off with actual laboratory procedures and then the afternoons were all hands on animal experience. Those were good afternoons!! Chasing down sheep with fellow classmates so you could give them their vaccines, learning how catch cattle in chutes, taking X-rays, handling cats and dogs, learning how to give physical exams and injections. Animals added an air of unpredictability to each class, which always made them hysterically funny and enjoyable but sometimes also terrifying. Even some of your exams involved working with live animals! I can remember thinking how cool that was until about 5 minutes into my equine radiology exam when the patient decided she didn’t think it was so cool then decided a quick but hard bite to my wrist was what I needed.

With all that said though my first year flew by incredibly fast. Somehow it was stressful and draining but still always enjoyable and entertaining!