Course Overview

Dispensing medications, both Rx and OTC, is a common occurrence in every veterinary practice. Although prescribing medication falls only to the veterinarian, the actual preparation and labeling of drugs is often handled by members of the practice team. There is more to dispensing of medication than counting pills or writing a label. Team members need to understand the foundational principles of pharmacology and then use that knowledge to help the practice prevent pharmaceutical errors. It is vital that every team member who is involved in handling or dispensing medications be well trained. This training can help prevent adverse events which affect not only the health of patients but the health of the practice.

Pharmacology: Conquering the Basics of Drugs
provides up-to-date information, covering topics such as drug classifications, contraindications, side effects and potential complications. Upon completion of this 6-week course, students will be able to calculate doses provided by the veterinarian and administer medication properly, as guided by the “5 Rights of Medication Administration.”  Participants are not required to work in practice to complete this course. 

This course was formally titled Basic Principles of Pharmacology.


Continuing Education Credits

Course meets the requirements for 15 RACE hours of continuing education credit for veterinary technicians in jurisdictions which recognize AAVSB's RACE approval. However, participants should be aware that some boards have limitations on the number of hours accepted in certain categories and/or restrictions on certain methods of delivery.

This course is an interactive online course that meets RACE requirements; program number 57-10419.


Course Content

Pharmacology: Conquering the Basics of Drugs is a 6-week course that examines the most common classes of drugs used in today's veterinary practices. This course begins with factors that affect drug absorption, routes of administration, and controlled drug considerations. Calculations and conversions are covered extensively, along with antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic and antiviral drugs. Fluid therapy, anesthetics, analgesia, anticonvulsants, hormonal drugs and vaccines finish out the course.


Course Focus and Learning Objectives

Pharmacology: Conquering the Basics of Drugs is an introductory level course designed for veterinary assistants and technicians who wish to increase, or refresh, their knowledge of pharmacology. Advanced receptionists wishing to further their education can also benefit from this course, as it addresses side effects of medications commonly dispensed, as well as contraindications.

Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to:

  • Outline the Veterinarian-Client-Patient-Relationship and the 5 Rights of Drug Administration, and how it applies to dispensing drugs
  • Identify the different routes of administration including injection considerations and concerns
  • Define systems of measurement and illustrate conversion between systems
  • Compare and contrast factors that affect drug absorption
  • Describe the role of the liver and kidneys, when considering drug elimination
  • Calculate basic drug dosages
  • Identify antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal classes and discuss clinical uses and adverse side effects
  • Identify classes of antiparasitic drugs, commonly used ingredients in parasiticides, delivery methods, and common side effects
  • Identify zoonotic parasites and evaluate effective treatments for each
  • Identify anti-inflammatory drugs, including NSAIDS and steroids, describe the mechanism of action, clinical uses, pre-screening measures and side effects
  • Identify opioids, describe the mechanism of action and adverse side effects
  • Describe principles, categories and types of fluid therapy
  • List and describe the different classes of drugs used in anesthesia and analgesia
  • Compare and contrast drugs available to treat epilepsy
  • Outline the anatomy of the nervous system; explain how drugs affect the autonomic nervous system and the central nervous system and common side effects
  • Discuss respiratory, cardiac, gastrointestinal, and hormone drug usage and adverse side affects
  • Describe and compare vaccine types and explain vaccine induced adverse reactions


Participant Access Parameters

The design of this course allows participants to enroll at any time. 

After enrolling, please allow up to 48 hours for course activation. Each participant will have a personal start and end date that begins upon activation.


Participant Feedback

...The assignments that involved using a clinic case to describe when, why, and how a drug/treatment was used helped connect the dots. he case studies were the best learning tool to connect everything together.

...I felt that the case studies were the most beneficial to me. Putting all of the knowledge learned into a situation that we may encounter in our daily jobs made it sink in more for me.

...I enjoyed learning about NSAIDS, drug interactions, anatomy of CNS, fluid therapy

...Calculating drug doses for me was probably the most beneficial especially the solutions.

...The most beneficial part of the course for me was the math equations and the overview of the different anti-parastic drugs.

...The style of questioning was very nice. It made me really investigate my book and I learned a lot in just trying to search for answers.

...I appreciated learning about the physiology of the CNS and endocrine systems, as well as how opioid works, as having that background helped me better understand how the drugs work.


Required Materials

Applied Pharmacology for Veterinary Technicians, 5th Edition Boyce P. Wanamaker & Kathy Massey
Important Text Information:

It is mandatory that each participant has access to this textbook as the content of the book is not reproduced within the course. It is up to each person to determine the best way to acquire the text. Some will already have the text in their library and therefore will not need to purchase another copy. The text is available as a print publication and as an eBook. Where to purchase and in what format is totally up to the participant. The text is not included in the fee for this course.

USA residents: Elsevier texts, both print and eBook, are available via the VetMedTeam Elsevier Text Portal at discounts off regular retail of 25 - 35 %. If you would like to visit the portal to take advantage of the discount please use this link:

VetMedTeam's Elsevier Text Portal

Limited Quantity eBook Code Offer:

VetMedTeam has a limited number of eBook text codes available for purchase. These codes are not restricted to USA residents. The cost of the eBook code via this option is $41.00 - code fee reduced to $10 but when they are gone they are gone. If you are interested in purchasing the eBook text code directly from VetMedTeam please click on this link to submit your transaction Text Code Payment Page.

Important: Regardless of which option the participant chooses, access to a copy of the textbook is mandatory. Without the text the student will not be able to complete the assignments, case studies and examinations. If enrolling close to or beyond the course start date, it is recommended that the text be purchased as an eBook to prevent text acquisition related delays. VetMedTeam has no control over shipping delays and other related problems.


Course Completion Requirements

Completed students are awarded a certificate of completion. Completion requirements include:

  • Instructor Graded Interactive Module Assignments: Designed to help the participant reinforce newly learned material

  • Instructor Graded Interactive Case Study Assignments: Designed to help the participant apply the newly learned skills and knowledge though patient and practice based scenarios

  • Examinations: All examinations must be submitted with a score of 80% or better

  • Course survey


Course Instructor

Helen E. Roberts, DVMHelen E. Roberts, DVM

Dr. Helen Roberts is a partner in 5 Corners Animal Hospital in Orchard Park, NY and the owner of Aquatic Veterinary Services of WNY. She has been in private small and exotic animal practice since receiving her DVM degree from the University of Georgia. Dr. Roberts is a member of several national and regional professional organizations including AVMA, ARAV, AEMV, AAFV, WAVMA, NFVS, WNYVMA, and NYSVMS. She served as the President of the Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society (NFVS), was selected for two terms as Chairman of AVMA’s Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Committee, and currently serves on the executive board of the Barkyard (Buffalo’s first off-leash dog park).

Dr. Roberts is a frequent speaker at national and international veterinary conferences on pet fish health. She edited and co-authored “Fundamentals of Ornamental Fish Health”, published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2009. She has authored and co-authored several articles published in peer reviewed journals and texts. Dr. Roberts was also featured in “Fixing Nemo”, an article on fish veterinarians published in the New York Times Magazine.

Dr. Roberts has a special interest in public health and serves as the veterinary sector co-leader for SMART (Specialized Medical Assistance Response Team), a regional multi-disciplinary medical disaster response organization.

In her spare time, Dr. Roberts enjoys photography and gardening. She has two fish ponds in her backyard, her own private oasis. Many other pets complete the “zoo”, including two mixed breed dogs, Phoenix and Gryphon, and Spike, a vintage tuxedo cat.



Price: $179.00



VetMedTeam 2014