Please also review:
There are two clinical practicums in the program, one after semester two and one just before graduation. Practicum 1 is completed at the end of semester 2. You are required to find a veterinary practice that is willing to mentor you during this process. There is paperwork that should be submitted after you have taken your proctored exams. Again, the practicum approval process does not begin until after you have completed your proctored exams and passed all the courses in semester 2. You cannot begin to work on any of the clinical skills until your site has been approved. You will receive and email from the Clinical Coordinator with your official start date for the practicum as well as the name of your faculty evaluator for the practicum when you are approved to begin. Practicum 2 is completed at the end of semester 4. This practicum has all the same requirements stated above (you must find your sites, pass all courses in semester 4 before the approval process will begin, and cannot start practicum until you receive your email with your official start date). Students will receive more detailed information prior to the start of the practicums.
Students must locate a suitable veterinary clinic/hospital and send back the required paperwork (provided in the Practicum PDF you will receive access to on your MyCourses page) to Penn Foster for approval. The school does NOT provide a site for you. Paperwork includes the following:
- Clinical Site Facility Criteria
- Clinical Mentorship Agreement
- Proof of Health Insurance
- Health insurance is required during both practicums. Most colleges require that you have health insurance for your entire enrollment; we only require it during the practicums. The reason is simple: safety. You can get hurt during a practicum. We do not want anyone to face the possibility of injury without the possibility of being able to afford treatment. It is to protect you, the clinic, and the school. It is required and there are no exceptions.
- You may use more than one clinical site, if necessary; to complete all skills and utilize all required equipment. Separate paperwork is required for each clinical site/mentor. If you propose to use more than one location, you must submit a list of skills you would propose to perform at each location along with the documents. All documents must be submitted at the same time.
- You may use more than one supervisor at a clinical site, but again, please make sure they each have the proper paperwork filled out.
The practicums are designed to allow the program to document your performance of specific skills required by the AVMA. No prior work experience can be substituted for this.
- The first practicum is focused on skills related to office procedures, radiology (film-based), and routine small animal procedures (i.e. restraint, injections). Many of the skills must be performed at a companion animal general practice. Specialty, emergency, and referral clinics cannot be used as a sole location for Practicum 1.
- The second practicum covers the remainder of the skills and covers some large animals and small mammals as well.
Required skills can be found on the AVMA website, please review this site for additional information: CVTEA Accreditation Policies and Procedures - Appendix I
The practicum site must meet specific criteria for equipment and staffing. A detailed PDF is provided to you on your webpage when you are near the end of semesters 2 and 4 that contains all this information. A minimum of 200 hours of clinical experience is required for Practicum 1. A minimum of 250 hours is required for Practicum 2. You are required to complete the minimum hours in approximately 10 weeks (Practicum 1) or 16 weeks (Practicum 2). A maximum of six months is allowed for completion of the practicum; failure to complete the practicum by this time can result in a failing grade for the practicum. No potential practicum site can be pre-approved.
The practicum deadlines are separate from your semester enrollment. Our deadlines exist within the confines of your semester enrollment. If your semester is going to expire during your practicum, you will have to speak with student services about obtaining an extension. If your semester is about to expire before you've sent in your paperwork, you will need an extension. However keep in mind that practicum deadlines supersede enrollment expiration when it comes to when you have to have your skills in.
Qualified clinical site supervisors for the practicums are
- A credentialed veterinary technician that is a graduate of an AVMA accredited veterinary technician program is the preferred choice... OR
- A veterinarian licensed to practice in the US or Canada only if no such technician is available.
In rare instances when a student's proposed supervisor cannot be reached, the student is advised to locate a different supervisor. This is simply due to our concern that if the supervisor cannot take the three minutes to discuss the practicum (the average length of the phone call we make), we wonder whether they have the time to adequately supervise the student. If the student chooses to remain with the same supervisor, they often have to wait to begin until we can speak with the supervisor.
You cannot begin either practicum until all proctored exams have been successfully completed and you have been sent an official approval and assigned a faculty advisor. If your semester enrollment has expired or will soon expire (less than 3 months left), you will be required contact student services about obtaining an extension before we can process your practicum facility documents. Completion/Passing of the Practicum is required prior to starting the next semester (Practicum 1) or graduation (Practicum 2). Once you begin the practicum, your faculty advisor will monitor your progress and assist you in completing the requirements and submitting the required documentation. Documentation may include journals, radiographs, photographs, etc.
In addition to the Standards of Progress stated in your student handbook, students who are in the Veterinary Technician program cannot be enrolled in the program for over 4 years at the time of beginning their first practicum. Veterinary technician students who have exceeded the four-year time limit at the time of the first practicum will be required to re-enroll in the program. Students who have been enrolled from three to four years should consider re-enrollment prior to beginning the practicum. Upon enrollment in the new program, students will also be required to bring all participation grades to a current level.
*If you have additional questions related to the practicums, contact an instructor at the school!
Here are some hints to (hopefully) make your Practicum paperwork process go smoothly.
- Be sure that your 2nd semester hasn’t expired or is about to expire. Get an extension, if needed.
- Make sure that your Practicum paperwork is filled out correctly. Review it several times for errors before you mail it to Penn Foster. If it is incorrect it will be returned to you. Please CALL US if you are unsure. Some common areas of error include (but are not limited to):
- Credentials: If using a technician, you must provide whether he/she is an LVT, CVT, or RVT. You must provide the school of graduation. Again, the school must be AVMA accredited. If using a veterinarian, please provide the credential (DVM, VMD, etc.) and the school of graduation. Please only use a veterinarian if a credentialed tech is unavailable.
- Number of species: This must be a number, not a percentage or left blank. It does not have to be exact, but we do need an approximate estimate. This is to ensure that you are seeing enough of the particular species needed for the skill sets.
- Equipment list: Everything on the equipment list must be included. If you don’t have something, it is not acceptable to write in “we will purchase one” or “borrowing one from another clinic.” If a piece of equipment is not available at the site of your choice, you either must purchase the equipment before sending in the paperwork or choose another site.
- List of skills: If you are using more than one site, you must provide the list of which skills will be done at which site. Radiographic skills for practicum 1 (30-33) must all be performed at the same site. Individual skills cannot be split up between sites.
- Make sure all of the paperwork is included in one envelope. You will need to send proof of health insurance; don’t forget to include that with the rest of your paperwork. If all of the necessary paperwork isn't included, we will send the paperwork back to you.
- A copy of an insurance card is acceptable, however if it is not your name on the card, be sure to include a statement from the insurance company stating that you are included on the policy.
- At this time, please do not fax Practicum paperwork.
- Once your Practicum paperwork is submitted correctly, we have to contact your site supervisors by phone. It can sometimes take weeks of playing phone tag to actually talk to some of the site supervisors, so please let them know to expect a phone call from someone at Penn Foster. The phone call only takes about 5 minutes, unless your supervisor has questions.
- Once you are approved by the clinical coordinator to start your practicum, be aware of your deadlines. Practicum 1 students have 10 weeks to complete their skills and their time sheet for 200 hours of work; Practicum 2 students have 16 weeks for 225 hours of work.
- The digital radiograph controversy! Contrary to popular belief, we here at Penn Foster have nothing against using digital radiographs for Practicum. However, until the AVMA decides to allow digital radiography, Practicum students must continue to take film-based radiographs. Yes, we know that film-based radiograph equipment is being phased out in many regions of the country and we sympathize with any difficulties you may have finding a practicum site without digital equipment, but we can’t make exceptions for anyone at this time. You will be taking radiographs on a live animal and sending the films into Penn Foster for evaluation. If the clinic where you wish to complete your Practicum skills has digital radiograph equipment, you will have to find a 2nd site to complete your radiograph skills and you will have to fill out the same practicum paperwork that you did for your first site.
- Don’t expect to walk into the practicum site and have the site supervisor teach you everything. You should have a very good understanding of the material you have covered in your courses. You may not fully grasp the application of those skills until you get a chance to practice them, but you should have knowledge of the anatomy and concepts behind everything you are doing. Make sure to review your course materials often, especially before you go to a site for an interview.
- Once assigned to a Penn Foster faculty evaluator, you will be provided with contact information for that person. Use it! He/she will be the person evaluating your skills and knows exactly what we are looking for. It is perfectly OK to email your evaluator with questions or concerns. Our goal is the same as yours: to see you succeed and understand what you are doing!
- Aim to send in about 4 skills per week. Don’t wait around until a month has passed and then start trying to tackle everything. That is a sure way to wind up stressed out.
- Don’t feel discouraged! It is a lot of information at once, yes, but try to work on one skill at a time, and remember, it is NORMAL to not get it right the first time or to have skills returned to you for resubmission. This is a learning process. Only practice will make perfect, so just keep your head up and keep trying!
- Be excited! This is the chance to show your stuff and practice what you’ve been working so hard towards. Ask a lot of questions, stay around to observe complicated procedures even if you won’t be directly involved, and practice as much as you can!
You can read more about the Practicum Paperwork here: Practicum 1 Paperwork Guide