Veterinarians are some of the most highly-educated professionals in the world, and it takes a lot of hard work to become one.
While many students begin their education in a four-year college, others can take a different path. Community colleges offer a range of associate degrees that give students a solid foundation before they transfer to a four-year college.
Veterinary medicine is a challenging field, and it takes a lot of hard work to get through the program. That’s why it’s so important to begin in the right place.
Here, we’ll break down the best Tennessee veterinary schools and give you the information you need to succeed in the field.
Lincoln Memorial University
Lincoln Memorial University is a respected university with a veterinary medicine program ranked #42 by US News & World Report. The program has been in place since 1966 and has more than 1,600 alumni practicing across the country.
LMU's program includes core and prerequisite courses in the sciences along with a clinical rotation that provides hands-on experience. Additionally, students are required to complete a thesis as part of their degree.
Students are advised to complete at least one rotation in large animal medicine to be competitive for admission. However, LMU also offers small animal rotations to give students more experience.
LMU is known for its strong international study abroad programs that give students the opportunity to learn in a different culture. The program has partnerships with veterinary colleges around the world, including the University of Pretoria in South Africa and the University of Florence in Italy.
Volunteer State Community College
The College of Veterinary Medicine at Volunteer State Community College is the first and only program in Tennessee. The college has a mission to improve the well-being of animals and the people who care for them.
To that end, VSC offers three associate degree pathways and a certificate program in veterinary assisting. Through these programs, students gain the knowledge and skills to support the veterinary community in a variety of capacities, such as animal health technician, small animal assistant, and large animal assistant.
Students also gain practical experience through internships with area veterinary clinics and hospitals. Through these opportunities, students gain the confidence and skills needed to succeed in the profession.
The College of Veterinary Medicine also offers four bachelor's degree programs, including animal biology, veterinary technology, veterinary business administration, and a bachelor of science in veterinary medicine technology.
Through these programs, students learn from experienced instructors and mentors, gaining the knowledge and network needed to become leaders in the animal health field.
Chattanooga State Community College
As one of the best community colleges in the state, Chattanooga State provides a strong foundation for veterinary students. The school offers three options for students to begin their studies: an associate in applied science degree, an associate in arts degree, or a pre-professional degree.
For those pursuing an AAS degree, Chattanooga State offers several relevant options. The Animal Care Technology associate degree program takes about a year to complete and consists of 67 credit hours. It covers all of the basics, including animal biology, animal production, and animal health. Additionally, students gain hands-on experience working with various animals in the lab and in an animal facility.
The Animal Technology associate degree program also focuses on animal biology, but it takes a more in-depth look at animal health. Through 68 credit hours, students learn about animal medicine, animal production, and animal health. Most importantly, they learn through hands-on experience, working with various animals in the lab and in an animal facility.
For those looking to study more broadly, Chattanooga State offers the Pre-Veterinary Studies associate degree. Through 62 credit hours, students learn about a variety of subjects, including animal biology and animal health. Most importantly, students gain experience working with a variety of animals through multiple labs.
No matter which associate degree Chattanooga State students choose, they can expect small class sizes and quality instruction. The average class size is around 15 students, with a 1:15 faculty to student ratio. This small learning environment gives veterinary students the one-on-one attention they need to succeed.
With such a solid foundation, it's no wonder that so many students continue their studies at some of the best colleges for veterinary medicine, including the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Columbia State Community College
Veterinary technology is a rapidly growing field that provides many opportunities for those interested in working with animals. Columbia State Community College is one of the few schools in the state that offers a program in veterinary technology.
In the associate degree in veterinary technology program, students spend one year learning the fundamentals of the field. They'll take courses in animal biology, veterinary practice management, and animal health. They'll also complete an intensive, six-month clinical rotation in an animal hospital, where they'll perform actual veterinary medical procedures under the supervision of veterinarians and instructors.
Students who want to pursue a certificate in veterinary technology education can do so as part of Columbia State's veterinary assistant program. This program teaches the skills that veterinary assistants need to work in hospitals and with large animals. Students learn about animal anatomy, animal health, and hospital protocols and procedures. They also complete a clinical rotation in which they gain experience working with hospital animals under the supervision of veterinarians and instructors.
As with any program in the community college system, students in the veterinary technology programs at Columbia State can build on their experience by transferring credits from other schools. In addition, they have the option to transfer to the school's larger sister school, Columbia State University, and finish their degree there.
Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Memphis
The Tennessee College of Applied Technology at Memphis has an extensive list of accredited programs, including veterinary technician.
To earn the associate of applied science degree in veterinary technology, students complete two years of coursework and a minimum of 900 hours of on-the-job training.
In addition to the A.A.S. degree, TCAT offers a certificate and two post-baccalaureate programs in veterinary technology. The post-baccalaureate programs require an associate's degree in a related field and the completion of a 32-credit veterinary technology curriculum.
The University of Memphis, a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, serves as the host institution for TCAT. The school prides itself on being a “community-based, learner-centered, technology-enabled institution.”
It's unsurprising, then, that the school is home to many professional and support organizations, including the American Association of Veterinary Technologists Animal Health Diagnostic Association.