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BC’s Veterinary Medicine Field in Crisis

The Douglas College Foundation addresses the veterinary shortage by supporting veterinary technology students as they prepare for their careers.

The veterinary medicine field in British Columbia is facing a shortage of qualified Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVTs), resulting in burnout among those within the profession and a lack of accessible health care for our four-legged family members. Moreover, the BC SPCA has raised concerns about the veterinary shortage and the effect it has on pet owners in B.C. as they struggle to access animal care.

RVTs form the backbone of veterinary medicine. They help veterinarians diagnose animals and treat them as prescribed. They also take blood samples, run dental X-rays, administer anesthesia and much more. Because they care for many different species, the breadth of knowledge and skill they require is extraordinary. But too many pets need care, and there aren’t enough qualified RVTs available to treat them.

The current shortage presents RVTs with many challenges: burnout, compassion fatigue and an increase in mental health struggles, among others. Dozens of students across B.C. train to enter this profession yearly. Unfortunately, there are not enough Veterinary Technology (VTEC) graduates in B.C. to fulfill the increasing demand for animal care services. One way to mitigate the shortage is to strengthen pathways to education and financially support VTEC students during their studies.

The Douglas College Foundation is tackling the RVT shortage by removing financial barriers to education for students enrolled in the Veterinary Technology (VTEC) program. In September 2022, the Foundation launched its Fall Fundraising Campaign in support of VTEC students. The Foundation has since raised $260,000 to establish three annual bursaries of $3,000 in perpetuity.

“Students in financial need will have access to bursaries from our Fall Campaign, which reduces stress and allows them to focus on their studies,” explains VTEC Program Coordinator, Dr. Jennifer Wakeling. “This leads to better mental health and helps ensure their success within the program.”

Every year, these bursaries will cover one full semester of tuition for three student recipients entering their second year of the VTEC program—a challenging term with the most intensive practical courses.

“Future generations of veterinary technology students need access to meaningful financial support,” explains Cheryl Bosley, Director of Philanthropy at Douglas College Foundation. “It’s essential to invest in the health and wellness of those in the veterinary profession and in their contributions to the animals they care for.”

The Douglas College Foundation would like to thank those who supported the Fall Campaign for Veterinary Technology students. To learn about the full impact of the Fall Campaign, scan the QR code.