'Two years of us working hard in this program go to waste'— college program discredited just before graduation

·2 min read
Gabrielle Venne has just a few weeks left in her veterinary technician studies at Collège Boréal, but is now doubting her career prospects after the program lost its accreditation.  (Erik White/CBC  - image credit)
Gabrielle Venne has just a few weeks left in her veterinary technician studies at Collège Boréal, but is now doubting her career prospects after the program lost its accreditation. (Erik White/CBC - image credit)

The career plans for some soon-to-be college graduates in Sudbury are on hold this spring after their program lost its accreditation.

Gabrielle Venne and her 20 classmates in the veterinary technician program at Collège Boréal have a few more classes left before they graduate, but she says it's tough to get through it.

"We keep going, but for what? It's very de-motivating," she says.

The Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians recently pulled the program's accreditation, meaning graduates are not able to write the national competency exam.

It isn't essential to work in the field, but Venne says many veterinary clinics in northern Ontario do require it from new applicants.

"Already with COVID, it's making things hard for us to get a job. And now that just really cuts down our chances by a lot," says Venne.

"That's two years of us working hard in this program go to waste."

The association did not reply to requests for comment, but Collège Boréal says it is working on an appeal.

'It was a complete shock. We were completely surprised when we heard of this," says vice-president academic Lyne Michaud.

Collège Boréal veterinary technician students treated dogs and cats at the on-campus SPCA shelter this past year, but didn't have much contact with larger farm animals.
Collège Boréal veterinary technician students treated dogs and cats at the on-campus SPCA shelter this past year, but didn't have much contact with larger farm animals. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

She says there were several reasons why the accreditation was revoked, following an evaluation process done virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michaud says the veterinary technician association was concerned that only about 30 per cent of Boréal graduates were going on to write the national exam in recent years.

She says the association also noted the lack of hands-on experience the students had with large farm animals this past year, something Michaud says was very difficult because of COVID restrictions.

She also believes that some of the information was lost in translation, with Boreal's program documents written exclusively in French.

Michaud is hopeful that a solution can be found for the 20 students graduating from the Sudbury campus and the 18 grads from Ottawa.

Venne is hoping that she and her classmates will be allowed to write the exam, but is also worried for the first-year students and others who are thinking of enrolling in a veterinary technician program.

"You're not going to be looking at Boréal any more, which sucks because it's a great school and a great program," she says.