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HCC instructor trains in program for veterinary assistants

June 12, 2007|by MARLO BARNHART

CLEAR SPRING - Kelly Tracey-Martin serves the two-footed residents in her work in pharmaceutical sales and the four-footed population as lead instructor in the veterinary assistant training at Hagerstown Community College.

A graduate of Wilson College with a bachelor's degree in veterinary medical technology, Tracey-Martin said she enjoys both of her careers.

"I sat for my state boards and am licensed to work in veterinary hospitals," she said. Both during and after college, Tracey-Martin did just that.

There are no 24-hour emergency animal hospitals in Washington County, she said, noting the nearest are in Frederick, Md. and Winchester, Va.

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After college, she picked Clear Spring as her new home. "I wanted quiet living," she said, noting she and her husband live on a six-acre farmette with two dogs and a couple of quarter horses.

For a while, Tracey-Martin did research at the National Cancer Institute at Fort Detrick and then went into pharmaceutical sales with SmithKline & French Laboratories, currently covering Frederick and Washington counties, as well as Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

She heard about the veterinary assistant program at HCC and has stuck with it for six years. The noncredit continuing education course runs from April to December at the college site at Valley Mall.

The difference between Tracey-Martin and her students is the state license. None can diagnose, prescribe medication or do surgery.

Tracey-Martin encourages all animal owners to inquire if there is a licensed veterinary technician on staff where they have their animals treated.

"It's good for the veterinarian and it's good for the pet owners," she said.

Students do 10 hours of clinical work in a veterinary hospital for the hands-on experience with mostly dogs and cats, plus some larger animals. The class is held every Monday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The curriculum includes medical terminology, office procedures, physical exams, hemotology, parasitology, radiology and pharmacology, Tracey-Martin said.

"Students range from 18 to their 50s," she said. "Some want new careers, while some with other professions want to know more about their own pets."

One woman comes all the way from Harrisburg, Pa., for the course. The current class of nine is all women.

"I know every veterinary hospital isn't necessarily going to have a licensed veterinary technician," Tracey-Martin said. "This program does allow staff with some experience."

A native of Washington County, Tracey-Martin is the daughter of Virginia Tracey and the late Bart Tracey. She graduated from Williamsport High School.

For more information about the veterinary assistant course, call 301-790-2800, ext. 520.

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