In a first for a tribal college, Navajo Technical University received accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education for its Associate of Applied Science degree program in Veterinary Technology.
It’s a significant achievement, points out a press release from the university, because being accredited under the AVMA represents the highest standard of achievement for veterinary medical education in the United States. Institutions who earn accreditation confirm their commitment to quality and continuous improvement, while also ensuring their students have met rigorous national standards.
Navajo Technical University began working toward accreditation in 2009 when Dr. Germaine Daye was hired to direct the Veterinary Technology program. She immediately noticed the impact the program had in addressing regional veterinary needs, but she also noticed that her students’ potential was limited because they couldn’t qualify for the veterinary technician’s national exam because Navajo Technical University was not accredited.
“It limited our past vet tech graduates, which was very sad and unfortunate,” said Dr. Daye, who also directs NTU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. “Those students could still go out and get a job as a veterinary assistant or technician, but it’s really limited. With licensure, the students have more responsibility at a higher pay and more benefits.”
In order to prepare Navajo Technical University for accreditation, Dr. Gaye had to conduct a comprehensive program review to see how in line the program was with AVMA guidelines. During the review, each course and syllabus was looked at and improved as needed. The staff also secured National Institute of Food and Agriculture funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in order to obtain equipment for NTU’s Teaching Hospital. The program’s staff also developed a 130-page manual detailing protocols for animal care and handling.
“It was really detailed,” said Dr. Zoey Benally, who helped put together the manual with Dr. Daye. “It was really challenging at times, but the goal we had in mind was to make the program better for the students. They’re the reason we’re at NTU. That was always in our minds and kept us going.”
Keeping up accreditation will also be an ongoing task for Navajo Technical University. Initial accreditation is good until 2022, but small infrastructure improvements will continue to be made to ensure the program remains in good standing.
“I feel like this was a wonderful thing to accomplish for our students,” said Dr. Daye, who described the accreditation process as humbling. “I would just like to thank the staff and students for their support and understanding. Without them we couldn’t have accomplished this.”