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Photo courtesy of Dakota County Technical College

Bethany Einer, 25, was able to transfer to Dakota County Technical College to finish her degree after Argosy University in Eagan abruptly closed earlier this year.

Veterinary technician program expanding

Bethany Einer loves animals.

She’s is in the midst of an internship at South Metro Animal Emergency Care in Apple Valley hoping to one day become a veterinary technician.

If all goes as planned, she plans to take her certification test later this year.

But, not everything has gone to plan for Einer in 2019.

A few months ago she was taking her final class at Argosy University in Eagan when she received an email stating the school was closing mid-semester.

She was one of hundreds of students were left mid-degree with nothing but questions.

“It was heartbreaking for all of us,” Einer said. “Most of us had been together since the first semester. We had been through a lot together”

Einer started the veterinary technician program at Argosy in September 2017. She had studied video game design and worked at a bank since graduating from Montello High School in Wisconsin in 2012. But, she wanted a long-term career.

Dakota County Technical College program director Nicole Nieman heard about the closing at the same time as everyone else, and spent about a month comparing the two curriculum sets in order to transfer credits from Argosy.

Six former Argosy University students were able to enroll into DCTC right away and graduate May 17 with associate of applied science degrees.

Einer will finish at the same time as if Argosy University never closed, she said.

The DCTC program has more than 30 former Argosy students enrolled for summer, and will likely have many more starting in the fall.

Both Argosy University and DCTC have American Veterinarian Medical Association accreditation and required the same amount of credits. Nieman said there are 750 essential skills each graduate needs to complete.

“Some skills were introduced a little earlier, some later,” Einer said. “But, they’re pretty similar.”

Nieman has been through this before.

She was with Globe University and helped start the veterinary technician program at DCTC when Globe University shuttered its program in June 2016. She put together a curriculum, and the DCTC veterinary technician program officially started in August 2017.

In 2018, Nieman took in a group of former Globe University students and the majority have since graduated.

Working for a state school is different than a for-profit school, she said. Although veterinary technician credits cost the most at DCTC, the total tuition is about half the cost compared to what Globe University was charging, Nieman said.

“We’re in it to serve the students,” Nieman said. “Every conversation I’ve had is that tuition doesn’t need to be high, but it needs to pay the bills. We should break even. If we make a little money, we invest it back into the school.”

DCTC has admitted 37 Argosy students, 32 in the veterinary technician program, four in the pre veterinary technician/veterinary technician combination, and one pre-medical assistant/medical assistant program.

By this time next year, Nieman expects nearly 100 former Argosy students will have enrolled at DCTC.

The school is expecting it. Nieman said they’re making plans to expand the building to accommodate the program’s laboratory at DCTC’s main campus in Rosemount.

Students take general and lecture courses at the main campus, but the veterinary technician lab is housed at a leased space in Lakeville.

“It’s a huge opportunity,” Nieman said. “We’ve went through four building plans so far and it keeps getting bigger. We’re taking more than half of the Argosy students out there. We’re looking to double our lab space. The plan is to have us on campus next year.”

Nieman said it would allow the DCTC program to take in twice the number of students. They’re not expecting to turn away any prospective students either. Whether they’re in high school or an adult looking to change careers, DCTC plans to have space for them.

“High school students are touring the facility two times a month at least,” Nieman said.

The transfer students will be on a different schedule. Those new students registered for fall will keep their spots.

“The Argosy spots will drop right in and I’m sure I’ll end up hiring more staff,” Nieman said.

Veterinary technicians are like a nurse or physician’s assistant. They can’t prescribe medication, perform surgeries, diagnose or euthanize an animal.

“We’re the ones who take all the x-rays, drawing the blood, collecting all the samples, and process all those laboratory samples,” Nieman said. “I’m the one who preps the patients. I’m the one who recovers them. We see appointments. We do injections. We do all the things a human nurse would do.”

They study every potential pet from a hamster to a horse. Nieman said the placement rate is high.

“Vets are counting on these graduates,” Nieman said.

Other schools area state community colleges have picked up where Argosy left off.

Inver Hills Community College admitted four former Argosy students in March. Nieman said she heard some former Argosy students plan to finish their degrees online or transfer somewhere else like Ridgewater College in Willmar.

But she said she’s heard some former Argosy University students have dropped the program all together, but not Einer.

She’s hoping to continue working in Apple Valley once her internship is over. She said she likes emergency care services and one day hopes to work in disaster recovery situations.

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