Veterinary Administrative Assistant

Learn best practices for a career in animal care, including specialized skills in veterinary nursing and receptionist skills for the veterinary office.

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41 Weeks


6 Weeks

Program Outline

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About The Program

The Veterinary Administrative Assistant diploma program will provide you with the skills to be successful as a veterinary assistant or administrator. Gain an introduction to the field of veterinary medicine and learn about the breeds of cats and dogs, the behaviour associated with the various breeds, body language, behaviour concepts and animal nutrition and nursing. You will also gain skills in veterinary office management which includes maintaining medical records, processing pet insurance claims, scheduling appointments and an understanding of veterinary office management software such as eVet.

Career Opportunities

The Veterinary Administrative Assistant Diploma program will qualify graduates to pursue positions in veterinary clinics, animal care agencies, or positions in pet stores.

Employers Who Have Hired Eastern Grads

  • Pet Smart 
  • Hound Tales Inn 
  • Annapolis Animal Hospital 
  • Complete Care Hospital 4 Pets 
  • Clayton Park Veterinary Hospital


89 %

Employment Rate*

$ 15

Average Wage/hr**

$ 19

High Wage/hr**

*Employment Rate based on 2022 contactable Eastern graduates employed in a related field within 12 months.

Source: workingincanada.gc.ca

NOC Code: 6563,1411 - **Wage data based on NOC Code 6563 and rounded down to the nearest dollar based on Nova Scotia data. Average wage doesn't reflect the starting salary but represents the middle value between lowest to highest wages. Local (or regional) income may vary. Last updated in Jan 2024.

Program Details

Do you want to spend your day working with cats, dogs and other animals? The Veterinary Administrative Assistant program at Eastern College combine hands-on clinical experience with administrative support training to prepare you for a role in the world of veterinary care.

This hands-on program will train you with specialized skills in veterinary nursing, as will as receptionist skills. Learn medical terminology and how to properly care for animals, big or small.

Whether providing clinical assistance or handling client communication, graduates from these programs are essential to the operation of every veterinary clinic.

Course Listings: Nova Scotia
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Icon-Quiz-Small Created with Sketch. Bookkeeping Fundamentals
In this module you will explore fundamental bookkeeping principles and practices for small businesses. You will apply Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to financial statements and demonstrate how each principle impacts the transactional recording and the business, both directly and indirectly. You will make journal entries and record transactions in the General Ledger. You will manage accounts receivable and accounts payable. You will track the use and dispensation of petty cash in journal entries. You will also calculate the correct amount to pay for taxes and remittance to the CRA. You will practice cross-referencing for a bank reconciliation and correct any errors. By completing this module, you will attain the skills necessary to perform basic bookkeeping procedures and use basic bookkeeping terminology.
Icon-Quiz-Small Created with Sketch. Career Planning & Preparation - Level I
This module will introduce you to and provide practice in using the tools required for a successful job search. The concepts covered in this module will help you maintain a career-focused approach throughout your studies so that you are better prepared to conduct a job search after graduating. Specifically, you will learn how to identify your soft and hard skills and how to articulate your abilities in a clear and concise Elevator Pitch that will appeal to employers and resonate with industry contacts. You will learn about the job search resources available to you including using career websites, creating Linked In profiles, accessing the “hidden” job market, and networking. You will examine sample resumes and cover letters and begin the process of creating your own professional resumes and cover letters that align with current conventions for content, organization, and formatting. You will also learn about the role of references, thank you letters, workplace philosophies, and strategies for success including maintaining a professional image and using proper etiquette when communicating with potential employers and industry contacts. An introduction to Occupational Health and Safety is also provided with specific focus on employees’ rights and responsibilities, workplace health and safety policy and programs, hazard identification and control, and safety training options such as WHIMIS and First Aid.
Icon-Quiz-Small Created with Sketch. Career Planning & Preparation - Level II
This module builds on concepts and skills introduced in the Career Planning and Preparation Level 1 prerequisite module. In this subsequent module, you will update and refine your resume and Linked In Profile. You will continue writing cover letters and learn the value of customizing cover letters to specific job postings. You will have the opportunity to apply this knowledge as you conduct a job search and write a cover letter tailored to an ideal job post. Through research, you will create a list of top employers and target current industry opportunities. You will learn about current methods for applying to job postings using technology. You will also gain an understanding of the job interview process, typical interview questions and possible responses, and expectations of both the interviewer and interviewee. In addition, you will engage in practical application of the interview process through role-plays. Topics such as negotiating salary, self-management, and on-the-job success for placements and post-graduate employment will be also covered.
Icon-Quiz-Small Created with Sketch. Digital Literacy for Professionals
This course has four units that introduces you to the fundamental concepts and principles of learning and working in a digital environment. The first unit introduces you to using devices and handling information with topics on operating systems (Windows, MAC, and Linux), computer organization (folder management and naming conventions), cloud storage (including Microsoft OneDrive), types of web browsers including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari), and fundamental troubleshooting. In the second unit, you will become familiar with creating and editing information through learning about file formats (pdf, mp4, docx), productivity (including iWork and Microsoft Office Suite) and creativity (Adobe, Canva, iMovie) platforms, and basic introduction to Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The third unit on communicating and collaborating will introduce you to web conferencing applications (Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams), mail applications (including Microsoft Outlook and Gmail,), project management tools (Trello, Asana), and time management tools (including Todoist, Outlook Calendar, and iCal), and building rapport virtually. In the final unit, you will gain an understanding on netiquette, cybersecurity, and digital wellness. After completing this course, you will have enhanced digital literacy skills as a professional in the working and learning environment.
Icon-Quiz-Small Created with Sketch. Field Placement - Veterinary Administrative Assistant
Upon successful completion of the classroom hours of this program, you will be assigned a field placement at an outside organization in order to gain some real-world experience and apply your new knowledge and skills in a practical setting.
Icon-Quiz-Small Created with Sketch. Large Animal Medicine
This module introduces you to large farm animals. In taking this course, you will be able to identify common breeds of horses, cows, pigs, goats, sheep, and chickens as well as the nutritional and husbandry needs of these animals. Topics include restraint methods used with large animals, general nursing care for large animals, and the administration of medication for large animals. There is a focus on bovine breeds and management, bovine procedures and conditions, goat and sheep breeds and management, equine husbandry, equine nursing including vaccines, and diseases. Your understanding of these concepts will be measured through assignments such as a Presentation and a Self-Reflective Report. Finally, you will gain hands-on experience with large animals through a field trip to the farm.
Icon-Quiz-Small Created with Sketch. Pocket Pets & Exotics
This module introduces pocket pets and exotic species including hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, and some birds and reptiles such as lizards and snakes. In completing this course, you will be able to define pocket pets and exotic animals, explain the different husbandry requirements for different species, and demonstrate sampling handling and restraint techniques appropriate to each specie. You will also be able to recognize common diseases in the various species, such as respiratory or digestive issues in birds, or wet tail in hamsters. You will practice explaining these issues to clients by completing discharge form exercises. Other topics such as beak trimming, drawing blood, molting, and tube feeding are covered. You will show your understanding of the topics covered in the course through researching, preparing, and leading presentations.
Icon-Quiz-Small Created with Sketch. Software Lab - Word Processing
This software lab module will use a simulation-based program called MindTap that consists of online trainings and assessments in Microsoft Word. It builds on the skills introduced in Digital Literacy for Professionals course. You will learn a comprehensive set of skills, with coverage including creating and editing a document (this includes saving a document, using AutoComplete and AutoCorrect, undo and redo actions, paragraph spacing, and more), formatting a document (covering topics like addressing comments in documents, using drag and drop, as well as cut, copy and paste). This course will also introduce you to how to create tables and a multipage report (including options found in the Navigation pane, formatting a table, merging cells and adding a formula, using SmartArt graphic, and more). You will acquire skills in editing text or content for layout and appearance (wrap text, WordArt, cropping a picture, and so on). Additionally, you will work with templates, themes, and styles (creating a new document from a template, using thesaurus, saving a custom theme, customizing a style, and so on). This course concludes with the mail merge feature (such as inserting mail merge fields into a document, complete a mail merge, and more).
Icon-Quiz-Small Created with Sketch. Software Lab - Spreadsheets
"This software lab module will use a simulation-based program called MindTap that consists of online trainings and assessments in Microsoft Excel. You will learn the fundamentals of excel, such as opening and closing a workbook, entering formulas, modifying worksheet views, and so on. You will acquire skill in formatting workbook text and data (change fonts, font style, and font colour, format dates and times, merge, use the AVERAGE function, and more). This course will also introduce you to the skill of performing calculations with formula and functions, including sub-topics such as extend data and formulas with AutoFill, calculate statistics, and so forth. You will also be able to analyze and chart financial data using available excel charts, such as pie chart, line char, chart legends, data bar, and so on. This course will conclude with you learning how to generate reports from multiple worksheets and workbooks (such as copy worksheets between workbooks, organize worksheets in a worksheet group, hyperlink to a document, create a workbook template, and more).
Icon-Quiz-Small Created with Sketch. Small Animal Breeds and Behaviour
In this module, you will be introduced to dog and cat breeds. You will develop the skill of identifying common and distinctive breeds of dogs and cats as well as typical behaviours associated with the various breeds. Behavioural concepts including nature versus nurture, dog and cat body language, puppy and kitten training, and training foundations will be covered. Various groups of dogs will also be introduced including sporting groups, working groups, herding dogs, non-sporting groups, hounds, terriers, and toy groups. Issues specific to cats such as genetics, heritable diseases, and problem behaviours including anxiety, compulsive disorders, and inappropriate elimination are also covered. This module addresses possible treatments veterinarians may recommend for various problematic behaviours. Through presentations and a report, you will practice articulating the issues surrounding problem behaviour such as the psychology of the problem and behaviours themselves, as well as a training plan. Additionally, this module introduces you to organizations and registries such as the American Kennel Club and the Canadian Kennel Club for dogs as well as the Canadian Cat Association and the Cat Fancy Association for cats.
Icon-Quiz-Small Created with Sketch. Small Animal Medicine for VAA
This module introduces preventive health programs in small animal medicine. In completing this module, you will be able to describe the immune system, common diseases, disease transmission, causes, symptoms, prognosis, treatments, and prevention including vaccines, for both felines and canines. You will also be able to describe internal and external parasites and the corresponding treatment and control products with a focus on ticks and fleas. You will demonstrate your knowledge of these concepts by researching, preparing handouts and brochures, and leading presentations. Pet identification options such as tattooing and microchipping are covered. Key aspects of spaying and neutering, grooming, and dental health are explained. You will practice conveying these issues related to these concepts to a client with in-class scenarios. Concepts related to animal welfare and animal rights are also addressed.
Icon-Quiz-Small Created with Sketch. Small Animal Nursing for VAA
This module introduces you to the nursing of small animals. You will acquire the skills necessary to provide support with physical exams, restraint and handling, administration of medications, first aid, bandaging and wound closure and care. You will be able to explain key concepts related to laboratory procedures, pharmacology, diagnostic imaging, and radiology. Additionally, you will be able to describe issues surrounding vital signs, IV therapy, anesthesia, common surgical procedures, and euthanasia. You will be able to identify surgical instruments, assist in presurgical preparation, and explain discharge instructions to clients. You will show your understanding of these concepts by creating education materials for clients and researching, preparing, and leading presentations. The euthanasia process, care of remains, and the grieving process are also covered. This course includes guest speakers, field trips to veterinary clinics and hospitals, and some hands-on experiential learning opportunities as well as a practical examination.
Icon-Quiz-Small Created with Sketch. Small Animal Nutrition
This module introduces you to the nutritional needs of companion animals as they relate to the 6 basic groups of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. The key nutritional differences between dogs and cats are highlighted. You will review the classes of nutrients and distinguish between energy producing nutrients and non-energy producing nutrients. You will acquire knowledge about interpreting pet food labels, calories, Atwater Factors, resting energy, and metabolic energy. You will conduct nutritional assessments, perform an energy review based on information you gather from pet food labels, and complete the calculations to determine the dietary needs of pets. You will practice explaining this process so that you can share it with future clients. The connection between diet and disease and disorder management is also covered.
Icon-Quiz-Small Created with Sketch. Student Success Strategies
In this orientation module, you will focus on achieving success from day one. You will develop non-technical skills to enhance your personal, academic, and career success. You will explore learning styles, including visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning. You will also enhance your practical study skills, such as memory, reading, note- and test-taking techniques. Personal exercises will focus on teamwork, decision-making and problem-solving skills, setting SMART goals, and maintaining a positive attitude. You will also explore techniques for managing change, stress, and conflict.
Icon-Quiz-Small Created with Sketch. Medical Terminology for Veterinary Administrative Assistant
In this course, you will acquire basic medical terminology and the corresponding pronunciation. You will learn how medical terms are derived as well as how basic word structures are used in the medical field. You will construct medical terms from the relevant word parts such as prefixes, suffixes, and root words. You will define terms common in a veterinary practice such as those used in surgical procedures, and those used when communicating about diseases, instruments, and dentistry. This module also provides a basic understanding of anatomy including tissue types, skeletons, joints, circulatory system, respiratory system, digestive system, nervous system, and more. You will be able to describe the ways in which organs and body systems function and interact. Finally, you will demonstrate your understanding of these concepts by conducting a Presentation on Anatomy.
Icon-Quiz-Small Created with Sketch. Veterinary Office Procedures
Upon completion of this module, you will have been introduced to the field of veterinary medicine and the practical skills necessary to function as a competent, entry-level veterinary assistant or administrator. You will understand the role of legislation and ethics in a veterinary practice, and the purpose of policies and procedures including work place safety. You will see how these standards relate to the day-to-day activities in the veterinary hospital. You will understand the purpose of, and be able to perform, standard veterinary front office administrative duties, such as maintaining patient medical records, scheduling appointments, processing pet insurance claims, communicating with clients, and performing financial transactions. Additionally, you will gain an understanding of veterinary office-management software such as eVet Practice Software, by completing an assignment where you willl perform tasks such as creating client profiles, inserting medical history, adding notes, setting reminders, determining when additional treatment is due, generating estimates, retrieving and printing records, posting charges to invoices, billing clients, printing end-of-day reports and daily totals, and closing the debit and cash accounts. Other topics covered include the human-animal bond, euthanasia, and grief.
Admission Requirements
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High school graduation or equivalent. For those without high school completion, please refer to the Program Overview at the top of this page or speak to your Education Consultant; plus a passing score in the academic achievement test.

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