Veterinary Assistant Technical Standards

All individuals, including persons with disabilities, who wish to participate in the veterinary assistant program, must be able to perform specific technical functions with or without reasonable accommodation.

The following information outlines the requirements, abilities, and behavioral characteristics necessary for admission, continued participation, and completion of the veterinary assistant program at Harford Community College (HCC). Students should consult with the non-credit allied health coordinator to discuss any individual situation that may prevent his or her ability to meet the admission criteria or the essential technical standards. Requests for reasonable accommodations will be considered. It is ultimately the student’s responsibility to meet these essential qualifications for participation in the program.

In order to meet the requirements for admission, perform the skills/duties of a veterinary assistant, and assume the responsibilities of a veterinary medical care provider the student must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Possess a minimum of a high school diploma or a GED.
  • Demonstrate an aptitude for science requiring attention to detail, careful observation, and accurate record keeping.
  • Review the program technical standards and ask questions if unfamiliar with the required activities or functions.
  • Decide if he or she has any limitations that may restrict or interfere with the satisfactory performance of any of the requirements.
  • Exhibit a personality suited to exhibit respect, concern, and compassion for both patients (animals) and clients (humans).
  • Indicate willingness to practice direct care skills in a laboratory/clinical setting by role-playing the veterinary assistant.
  • Learn to safely handle, restrain, and work with any species of domestic and exotic animals that may be sick, injured, fractious, or aggressive without fear.
  • Operate and maintain a variety of medical diagnostic and therapeutic equipment.
  • Assist with or perform a wide variety of routine medical, surgical, and diagnostic procedures common to the veterinary setting; including humane euthanasia.
  • Assume many different roles during a workday (receptionist, technical assistant, kennel attendant, janitor, etc.)
  • Perform routine cleaning and janitorial duties including using brooms, brushes, hoses, and various cleaning products (detergents, disinfectants), garden supplies and implements.
  • Recognize the potential for accident and/or injury related to the handling of potentially dangerous animals, and the exposure to potential allergens (animal hair, dander, etc.), loud noise, odors, animal pain and suffering, bloodborne pathogens, compressed gasses, pharmaceuticals (including controlled substances), sharp objects, ionizing radiation, and potentially hazardous materials/chemicals.
  • Visual—Able to observe, monitor, and/or assess client, and read fine print on monitors, devices, and gauges.
    1. Read written instructions in English.
    2. Possess eyesight capable of viewing small visual images, use a microscope, and read instrumentation.
    3. Acquire information from documents such as charts, radiographs, computer images, and other modes of delivery.
    4. Perceive fine detail, focus at several distances, and discern variations in color, shape, and texture in order to differentiate abnormal from normal.
    5. See and discriminate between varieties of visual equipment alarms.
    6. Observe demonstrations and patients close up and at a distance to learn skills and gather client data such as, but not limited to, observing a patient’s facial expressions, appearance, posturing, and other nonverbal cues.
  • Hearing—Able to hear and understand faculty, staff, peers, clients, and healthcare workers; interpret conversations; and assess/monitor patients.
    1. Communicate and interact with faculty, staff, peers, clients, families, and veterinary healthcare workers from a variety of cultural backgrounds.
    2. Follow verbal instructions.
    3. Detect and discriminate between sounds of normal conversation.
    4. Hear sounds of a variety of equipment alarms.
  • Smell—Able to tolerate unpleasant odors related to infections, biological waste, etc.
  • Mobility—Possess the mobility and strength to move freely in the office and support/move patients.
    1. Move quickly from place to place and perform direct care.
    2. Ability to tolerate walking and standing for sustained and prolonged periods of time (85% of workday).
    3. Capable of lifting from floor to waist level and/or carrying up to forty pounds unassisted frequently, and up to fifty pounds or more with assistance occasionally.
    4. Ability to bend over at the waist, twist the trunk, squat, kneel, reach above the head, and have sufficient grip strength.
    5. Have the body size, conformation, and fitness to do the physical work required of a veterinary medical professional.
  • Motor Skills (fine and gross)—Perform multiple motor tasks simultaneously. Possess fine and gross motor skills sufficient to handle equipment and provide safe and effective client care; keen sense of touch; awareness of self in relationship to surroundings, steady arm and hand movements while manipulating objects or assisting the veterinarian, veterinary technician and/or patients.
    1. Perform animal CPR and other basic life support functions.
    2. Operate and manipulate equipment and instruments.
    3. Position/move patients safely.
    4. Push/pull equipment.
    5. Work in confined spaces while maintaining close, personal contact with others.
    6. Chart/write in client records and record client data.
  • Tactile—Possess a keen sense of touch and the ability to interpret tactile sensations to perceive information such as, but not limited to texture, mobility, firmness, strength, and temperature.
  • Communication—Able to communicate in English, both orally and in writing, with faculty, staff, peers, clients, and other veterinary medical workers.
    1. Speak English in a clear and easily understood manner.
    2. Write in a manner that is legible.
    3. Use correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
    4. Read and comprehend written material in English at a minimum of the 9th grade level.
    5. Observe non-verbal communication.
  • Intellectual and Cognitive Abilities—Able to learn, measure, calculate, reason, analyze, integrate, synthesize, and use data/information.
    1. Interpret, problem solve, and demonstrate critical thinking.
    2. Perform arithmetic and simple mathematical calculations at a minimum of the 8th grade level.
    3. Respond to emergencies by processing information consistently, accurately, and quickly.
    4. Possess the ability to self-evaluate.  
  • Behavioral and Social Attributes—Possess the emotional health required to use intellectual abilities fully such as exercising good judgment, promptly completing all responsibilities associated with client care, and developing mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with faculty, staff, peers, clients, families, and healthcare workers.
    1. Work both indoors and outdoors in all weather conditions during the daylight and after dark.
    2. Tolerate physically taxing workloads, long hours, and shift work in an emotionally charged, fast-paced environment.
    3. Interact with an endless variety of people, animals, and challenging clinical and interpersonal situations, maintaining composure while continuing to function appropriately and professionally.
    4. Adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients.
    5. Demonstrate team playing, compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation during the education process.
    6. Recognize emergencies and be able to take the appropriate action.
    7. Accept constructive criticism and respond appropriately by modifying behavior.
  • Ethical Standards—Demonstrate professional demeanor and behavior. Believe in the highest standards of care and uphold the values of personal responsibility, honesty, integrity, ethical behavior, trust, and professionalism. Perform in an ethical manner in all dealings with faculty, staff, peers, clients, and other veterinary medical workers regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, or any other status protected by law.
  • Legal Standards—Submit to a criminal background check and/or drug testing as required by policies of the college, clinical facility, and/or regulatory agency. The student is responsible for any cost.