Why VetMedTeam?

VetMedTeam's focus is providing continuing education for veterinary professionals and members of the veterinary practice team. It is what we do. We don't offer courses in auto mechanics or other career fields. Our students are not just numbers to us.

We live and breathe veterinary medicine. Our course instructors are experts in their areas, including VTS technicians, board certified veterinarians, and Certified Veterinary Practice Managers. Our instructors are actively working in the field and bring that "in the trenches" expertise to their instructing. We have been offering veterinary focused courses since 1999. We work closely with NAVTA and are the host for the Approved Veterinary Assistant examination.

Because we are only veterinary focused we not only want to provide excellent veterinary assistant training for the sake of the student but we strive to provide courses that will help the profession provide the best possible care for patients. At the end of the day if we have helped increase the skill and knowledge of the veterinary practice team and if we have made a positive impact on the quality of care provided to animals then it has been a good day.

Why is this important? Because selecting the right program can have a impact on your future. And it is important to have as much information as possible when making decisions. Take a look at the rest of our course catalog to help you get a better vision of who VetMedTeam is and why we are different.


Program Overview

The VetMedTeam Veterinary Assistant Program: Externship Option (VMTVAP:Externship) is approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) for the training of assistants and qualifies graduates to take the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) designation exam.

This version of VetMedTeam's long running assistant training program is specifically designed to meet the needs of those seeking employment at a veterinary practice.

Why Formal Training for Veterinary Assistants?

The veterinary assistant (VA) is a vital member of the practice team. The primary responsibility of the VA is to support the practice's credentialed technicians and veterinarians so that they may perform their tasks quickly and efficiently, providing the highest level of care for patients. For more information regarding the roles of team members on the practice team please download The Veterinary Healthcare Team.

VAs cannot reach their full potential without a strong foundation of both instructional and skills training. An added benefit of a well-trained and empowered VA is job satisfaction and a decrease in employee turnover. For most practices, setting up an in-house VA training program is difficult due to time and personnel restraints. Historically, the VA has been trained "on the job" but that method of training leaves gaps in knowledge and does not allow the VA to learn a large number of needed skills. Often the credentialed technician or veterinarian performs tasks that could otherwise be handled by the VA if appropriate training was provided.

It has now become very common for veterinary practices to require prior training for those seeking an assistant position. Beyond basic training, the AVA designation is a requirement of many practices. The VMTVAP:Externship has been created to meet the needs of practices for trained team members.


OK - How Does This All Work?

First, please take the time to read each section as well as use the link at the bottom of this page. The linked page will explain pre-enrollment paperwork requirements and payment options.

If you would like a phone call to discuss the program, please send your specific questions in an email to Include your full name, phone number, Time Zone, and time ranges when you will be available. 


Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) Designation

Upon completion of this program, graduates are eligible to take the national AVA designation examination.

To learn more about the AVA designation, testing fees, and requirements, visit this page Approved Veterinary Assistant.


Program Focus

The VetMedTeam Veterinary Assistant Program: Externship Option has been formatted specifically for the student seeking employment at a veterinary practice as a veterinary assistant.  The program will provide veterinary practices with pre-trained, entry level, veterinary assistant applicants.

VetMedTeam does not provide job placement services nor is completion of this program a guarantee of future employment. This program does not articulate for college credit at veterinary technology programs.


Program Content

The VetMedTeam Veterinary Assistant Program: Externship Option explores every area of the veterinary practice, from the reception area to the surgical suite. Each module examines a different topic which will afford the veterinary assistant with the training needed to perform their job effectively. The practical skills portion of the program is achieved via the externship.

This program will require a serious time commitment from the participant. It is an intensive learning experience.

For an overview of the content of the program use this link For an overview of the content of the program use this link Content Overview.


Externship Component

VetMedTeam does not provide a list of externship locations but does provide guidance. Please see the following section for more information.

Via the externship portion of the program, the student works directly with a clinical mentor, who is a credentialed technician or veterinarian. The clinical mentor works with the student, guided by the skills checklists, providing skills training and verification. This requirement takes learning to the next level: application.

The externship portion is 100 hours and is to be completed during the final 12 weeks of the program. The externship cannot be started until all online work is completed and finalized.

All participants are required to submit proof of health insurance as part of the externship component of the program. VetMedTeam does not provide participants with health insurance nor can we make recommendations as to where to obtain it. Program participants are not employees of the practice during their externship and are not eligible for employee benefits.

The externship location must be a full service veterinary practice providing services to privately owned animals. Shelters do not qualify for externship.

In addition to the onsite work with the clinical mentor, the program contains online assignments that relate directly to the externship experience.


Externship Placement Assistance

Participants are responsible for locating a full service veterinary practice at which to perform the externship.

VetMedTeam does not have a list of pre-vetted private practices. However, we will provide resource documents to help you obtain an externship site and we are always available to help practices understand the components of serving as a site.

VetMedTeam has partnered with VCA Animal Hospitals to help participants secure an externship site. VCA practices are located in 42 states. To see if there is a local VCA practice visit their Hospital Search Page. If you locate a nearby practice, contact us at to learn more about this opportunity.

Utilizing a VCA practice for the externship is simply an option - not a requirement. The final choice is up to the participant and the availability of willing practices.


Technology Requirements

Participants must have access to a printer and a scanner in order to complete mandatory requirements. The scanner must be capable of saving documents to pdf format as jpg image files cannot be used.


Participation Access Parameters

This program runs continuously. Participants may enroll at any time.

The design of this program allows each student to proceed based on individual schedule, as long as all assignments are submitted by the assignment submission deadline. There are no real time sessions so participants are not required to be online attending lectures at specific times.

However, each student is expected to work steadily through the program. Students who do not submit assignments for 30 days will be considered to have decided not to continue in the program, unless we are contacted promptly.

Each student's personal 39-week session will begin after the enrollment process has been completed. The first 27 weeks will be comprised of the online portion of the program with the externship requirements (100 hours) fulfilled in the final 12 weeks.

Please note that participants may complete the online portion of the program, the first 27 weeks, sooner if they have the time available.

The externship portion is dependent on the practice and usually requires the full 12 weeks to complete the 100 hours of practical work.


Required Program Textbook

Elsevier's Veterinary Assisting Textbook, 2nd edition by: Margi Sirois, EdD, MS, RVT, LAT

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.

Important: Regardless of which option the participant chooses, access to a copy of the textbook is mandatory. The matching workbook is not required. Without the text the student will not be able to complete the assignments, case studies and examinations.

VetMedTeam has no control over shipping delays and other related problems.


Participant Feedback

...I thought it would be nice to mention that my externship site offered my a job on my last day, which I happily accepted. Thank you for all you do in helping us students :)

...I feel the externship portion was the most rewarding part of the course where I have learned the most. I'm also much more confident in this field now than I was before the experience and cannot wait to continue further with it as my career! I couldn't be happier with choosing this course!

...I found the hands on experience in general very beneficial. Since I am new to the field I was a bit hesitant on the different restraints and drawing vaccines, but I am now a lot more confident in my abilities. I also enjoyed watching the different surgeries being done as well as dental surgeries. Watching these processes made me more inspired to want to continue in the future and complete a veterinary technician program. I feel that being exposed or witnessing some of the euthanasia's happening along with the processes done after the euthanasia is complete helped test me to see if I can handle those kinds of situations as I continue a career in this field. Overall I feel much more comfortable with working in this field than I did before the externship.

...The textbook and assignments were all great! I particularly enjoyed some of the "real world" scenarios in the assignments. The assignments were a great way to give me a summary of what I read in the textbook. Although I needed to be taught all of the things on the externship skill list, I still felt more confident doing them because I had already learned so much beforehand and had a basic understanding of why and how things were done. The instructors were helpful with their feedback and answered my questions in a way that was easy to understand.

...I thought the program was an excellent one. All the materials I read and learned from were very relevant to my role as a VA. When I showed up to do the externship I felt comfortable with my knowledge and that the team at the externship could tell I have had effective training. I had a great time completing the course and I am looking forward to my career as a VA. (Admin note: participant was hired by the externship site)

...The hands on experience. I am a personal client of and have known team members at the practice for some time where I did my externship. These girls were always kind in taking time to demonstrate or share tips for success. The experience has left me wanting to get full on Veterinary Tech certification, however that level of schooling is not possible for me right now. That being said though, being immersed in the practice has been invaluable.

...I found two aspects of the online program to be most beneficial. First, the free education supplements helped greatly over a variety of topic areas. Many were clearly presented and I was able to take notes that I can use throughout my practice. Second, I found that the exams helped material I was studying, especially technical material, become focused.

...Each module reinforced learning material through reading, writing and viewing. Content was excellent, and the feedback from instructors was very helpful. For me, the most important and beneficial modules were those about laboratory, parasitology, and radiology.

...The assignments were very helpful. The textbook did a good job of explaining the "how" behind the concepts, but the assignments encouraged me to sit down and really think about the "why" behind the concepts. By understanding the underlying principles of the techniques described in the text, I was able to develop a sort of veterinary "common sense" which has been very helpful in my new career as a veterinary assistant.

...Being able to work at one's own pace was very beneficial for me. All the chapters cover a good variety of material that will be needed in this profession. The assignments are a good way of having the student do research on topics and get a 'deeper' understanding of the 'whys' and 'hows' of different subjects within the veterinary profession, especially when doing on-line research, as it led me to learn other things as well. If a student studies hard and spends the time to understand all the chapters they will do fine!

...The overview of the veterinary profession was very helpful to me. I appreciated having a practical introduction to the organization of an average veterinary clinic and the laws and regulations governing the veterinary profession.

...I found two aspects of the online program to be most beneficial. First, the free education supplements helped greatly over a variety of topic areas. Many were clearly presented and I was able to take notes that I can use throughout my practice. Second, I found that the exams helped material I was studying, especially technical material, become focused.

...I did like the Compassion Fatigue training. I had a hard time during the first week of the externship. I cried a lot, sometimes all the way home in the car, and it would take a while for the dark cloud around my head to go away. I wondered if I should even continue with any of this. The training helped me out just by making me aware of compassion fatigue, and making me give myself some decompression "me" time. I still cried at every euthanasia, but I was able to be sad and then move on a few minutes later.


Program Instructor

Linda Merrill, LVT, VTS (SAIM), VTS (AVTCP)Linda Merrill, LVT, VTS (SAIM), VTS (AVTCP)

Linda received her AS degree in veterinary technology and an AA degree, both from Pierce College in Washington State. She has worked in specialty practice (cardio-pulmonary and oncology) and is currently working in a small animal practice. She is an author and editor, her most recent work is as an author for the Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Linda is the former President of the Washington State Association of Veterinary Technicians and former President of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America (NAVTA). Linda has achieved two Veterinary Technician Specialists credentials. Her first is the Academy of Internal Medicine for Veterinary Technicians (AIMVT), she was the Founding Chair and is the current Executive Director. Her second specialty is a Canine & Feline Veterinary Technician Specialist in Clinical Practice (AVTCP).

In her spare time, Linda is an avid scuba diver and has traveled the 7 continents. Her husband, Jeff, is employed in the Alaskan seafood industry. They enjoy the company of their rescue cat, an adorable but clueless Persian named "The Cat Formerly Known as Philbert." Her household is also the home to 2 rescue dogs. Linda loves Corgis and currently has the sweetest boys named Bill and Jake.


Payment Options and Enrollment Instructions

Use this link Payment Options and Enrollment Instructions to review the available payment options along with the pre-enrollment requirements.

Fees for the program do not include the required textbook, mandatory health insurance or out-of-pocket externship costs (scrubs, travel, etc).