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Charlotte clinic offers 'fast track' for aspiring vet techs, assistants amid labor shortage

A recent study found there will be an additional 41,000 veterinarians needed to meet the demand for pet care nationwide by 2030.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A nationwide shortage of veterinarians, techs and assistants is impacting clinics' ability to care for pets, with owners having difficulty getting an appointment and experiencing longer wait times at the vet's office. 

According to a study from Mars Veterinary Health, a leader in the industry, nearly 41,000 additional veterinarians will be needed to meet the demand for pet care by 2030.

A Charlotte area clinic is seeking solutions by training the next class of veterinary assistants to help fill the void.

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Stand For Animals has several clinics in the greater Charlotte area and they aim to provide affordable pet care. Like many other offices across the country, they’ve struggled with staffing shortages. Despite vet techs and assists with comforting helpful hands, there simply aren't enough to care for every pet that comes through the door. 

“The demand has grown because over the pandemic because so many people adopted pets," Cary Bernstein, the executive director of Stand For Animals, said. "It's kind of both things. There aren't enough people to do what needs to get done and there are more people who have pets."

Bernstein said the best training comes on the job but getting a foot in the door can be difficult and training courses are usually expensive.

Her clinic just welcomed a new cohort of apprentices who will be trained over the next eight weeks to be veterinarian assistants.

Madelyn Mejia, a recent high school graduate, thinks her love for animals could be a viable career. She’s hopeful she’ll be able to make a positive impact on the community by helping treat sick pets.

“You know you made that difference. You see it, you did that," Mejia said. "They couldn’t do that before and now you’re able to help them out and its maybe life-changing for them."

The cohorts will spend the first four weeks of the program in the classroom learning the basics. The last four weeks will be on the floor, getting the hands-on experience they’ll need to succeed. Stand For Animals also gives them a stipend during the program and offers them a job when it is over, although they aren’t required to take it.

The classroom is a breeding ground for the newest members of the workforce, which is a win for everyone involved. 

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“This is sort of a fast track to a vet assistant program,” Bernstein said. “And we know we’re giving them exactly what they need. So not only is it providing the training but it’s also making sure that they succeed in the role once they have it.”

Stand For Animals will be accepting another class of apprentices in 2023. Anyone interested can email info@standforanimals.org

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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