Your energy, personality, and love for all creatures great and small make you the perfect candidate for a career in animal care. You are a calming influence to both animals and their owners, and you can think of nothing more rewarding than making sure people and their pets get the very best of care.

The veterinary hospital assistant program will introduce you to lifelong friends who share your love for animals. This is a career where you really can make a difference by the end of the workday. In only nine months, you will have practical know-how in the following key areas: Surgical Preparation—Instrument Identification—Front Office Procedures—Client Care and Communications—Animal Nutrition—Veterinary Medical Terminology—Animal Anatomy and Physiology.

The 9-month veterinary hospital assistant program has always been a popular course at the Centre for Arts and Technology. Classes begin in both April and October, and usually, fill up far in advance. Graduates of the program become qualified “front-line” veterinary hospital assistants, and regularly find rewarding careers in a variety of animal care settings like Veterinary Hospitals • Animal Emergency and Critical Care Clinics • Boarding Kennels • Animal Non-Profit Organizations • Grooming Facilities.

The Centre for Arts and Technology prides itself on hiring not just the best instructors, but professionals who are leaders in their field. Our instructors have first-hand experience in veterinary practice and are a great resource for anyone wishing to make animal care their chosen career.

“I’m extremely happy that I took the VHA course and pursued a career in animal care. It has been a life-changing experience with lots of personal growth, and the knowledge I gained from this program has been essential in the field. I would certainly recommend this course to anyone who wishes to follow a career path in animal care.” –     Aleesha Leslie

Available for Online, Distance Delivery!

Program Length
9 Months
Delivery Type
On-Campus + Online

Course Flow

Quarter 1
Quarter 2
Quarter 3
Tab 1

In the first term of your Veterinary Hospital Assistant training, you will gain a foundational understanding of animal anatomy and physiology, which you will continue to build on throughout the program. You will explore both domestic animals (Dog and Cat Breed Identification) and livestock animals common to farms and ranches (Livestock and Exotics), and start learning the appropriate industry vocabulary via Medical Terminology. Lastly, you will be introduced to a fundamental understanding of some of the external parasites found in small animal medicine via Parasitology.

Tab 2

Continuing your understanding of Anatomy and Physiology, you will learn the anatomy and function of the nervous, digestive, respiratory and urinary systems in animals. You will study Immunology and Vaccinations, and Small Animal Nutrition, and become certified in Pet First Aid where you will learn about dealing with basic prevention of animal or human injury, CPR techniques, airway obstruction, poisoning, diseases and handling emergency situations in a clinical or domestic setting. You will also gain the fundamentals of working in a veterinary environment, including topics of reception, billing, software, client communications in Veterinary Office Procedures and Client Communications. Lastly, in Clinical Procedures, students will learn and practice the techniques involved in patient examinations, surgical procedures, fecal examinations, urinalysis procedures, restraint, radiology, hematology, and cytology.

Tab 3

In your final term of Veterinary Hospital Assistant, you will gain an advanced practice in and understanding of veterinary hospital practices and practicing real life scenarios to cement your skills and exploring various avenues in the animal welfare sector (Practical Experience and Role Play Simulations). You will receive in-depth training in Diagnostic Imaging, Veterinary Toxicology, and Veterinary Pharmacology. In Fundamentals of Dental Procedures and Introduction to Surgical Procedures, you will build an understanding of both areas, including the basic principles and procedures of small animal dentistry and veterinary surgery. Veterinary Hospital Assistant Employability Skills will allow you to explore the areas of Pet Behaviour, and potentially emerging advanced topics, to prepare you for a career as a Veterinary Hospital Assistant.



Deborah ‘s career encompasses fashion, film, music, television, print journalism and most recently, education at the post-secondary level. She spent most of the past 30 years in London, UK (with a couple of years here and there in Los Angeles and Vancouver).

Deborah is a committed animal lover who spent twelve years running BA and MA programs for the University for the Creative Arts in the UK, where she was twice the recipient of Teaching Excellent awards.

She and her husband relocated to Kelowna in 2012. They are proud fur parents a whoodle named ‘Muddy’ and a Burmese named ‘Four’ – both of whom are very excited about mom’s position as Program Manager for the VHA program at CAT.


Born and raised in Guelph Ontario, Kate has always had a passion for working with animals. She attended Sheridan College obtaining a certificate in Animal Care in 2005.

Her career began in 2005 at a 24/7 Emergency Clinic that specialized in avian and exotics as a Veterinary Assistant.  From there she settled into a high-volume Veterinary Clinic, which featured seven doctors and treated both companion animals and large animals (horses, livestock and even zoo animals!)  Shortly after moving to Kelowna in 2009, Kate began working at the KLO Veterinary Clinic as a Veterinary Assistant before joining The Centre for Arts and Technology as an instructor in 2011. Kate took time off in 2013 to grow her family and is excited to rejoin the program. Kate is continually advancing her skills; her latest achievement is the completion of the Advanced Level of the Animal Welfare Certificate Program at Thompson Rivers University. Kate completed this program with outstanding grades, receiving an A+ mark.

She lives in Kelowna with her husband, 3 boys who keep her busy, and a loyal Labrador Retriever named Kona.


Codee has always pursued a career within the animal health care sector.  After graduating from UBCO with a BSc degree majoring in Zoology she began working as a veterinary hospital assistant. She started her career off working at the Calgary Animal Referral and Emergency Centre. It was here she found her passion for emergency medicine and surgery. About a year ago, she moved back to the Okanagan where she started working as a surgical assistant at VCA Canada Tri Lake Animal Hospital and Referral Centre. Being able to work exclusively with the specialty surgeon has allowed her to gain experience with surgical procedures, protocols and emergency medicine. Codee is very excited to be able to share her experience and knowledge with the students at the Centre for Arts and Technology. Codee now works at the Vernon Veterinary Clinic.


Velina is a veterinary nurse from Australia and has been living in Kelowna and working at a variety of vet clinics throughout the Okanagan for the last 2 years.

Velina graduated from victoria university in Melbourne, Australia with a veterinary nursing diploma, a certificate in frontline management and a certificate in companion animal services. She pursued further training in small animal surgery and was a key surgical nurse at advanced vet care.

Advanced vetcare is a specialist veterinary clinic and animal emergency hospital servicing greater Melbourne and surrounding suburbs and regional centers of the state of victoria. Advanced vetcare was a significant contributor to Velina’s career in the animal industry and she goes back yearly to do cameo shifts and visit her aussie colleagues, recently celebrating 10 years of working there.

Despite her main interest being in orthopedic surgery, Velina has worked in multiple referring departments, including, internal medicine, ICU and emergency, hydrotherapy and physiotherapy and dermatology.

Previous to working at Advanced Vetcare, Velina has worn many hats including being a phlebotomist and also working with Wildlife Victoria, an Australian wildlife rescue organization.

When Velina is not at a Vet clinic or teaching at CATO you can find her travelling and actively pursue stand-up comedy. Her experience working in other parts of the world include New York City, Los Angeles and Vancouver; this gives her a global perspective in the animal industry which she loves to share with students, coupled with her humour.


Melissa grew up with many pets and always wanted to pursue a career involving animals. She graduated from the Animal Health Technology Diploma program at The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in 2007. She completed her practicum at a mixed animal clinic in Williams Lake BC. There she gained experience in large and small animal emergency veterinary medicine. Immediately after that, she started working at the Lakeshore Animal Clinic in Kelowna. Melissa has been on maternity leave from the clinic but plans to work part-time to keep her career in animal medicine alive while still enjoying the role of being a new mom! Melissa is excited to teach the Veterinary Office Assistant program so she can help lead the students to success and enjoyment in the program and in their new careers! Melissa currently has two dogs, one of which is a rescue from the SPCA.


Heather graduated from the University of Calgary, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in 2014, and has been working as a small animal veterinarian ever since. She got her start in the profession working overnights at a busy emergency practice in Calgary. Part of what drew her to the profession was the potential for forming long-term relationships with animals and their owners, something that just wasn’t possible at an emergency hospital. As a result, she moved with her young family to Kelowna and is currently very happy to be practicing a mixture of primary and emergency medicine as part of the team at Tri Lake Animal Hospital in Winfield. In addition to the interesting people and animals, Heather has a deep appreciation for the science that is at the heart of veterinary medicine. During her undergraduate studies in Microbiology and Immunology, she was fascinated by the diversity and complexity of living organisms, and the various ways that animals cope with the disease. She is very keen to share her passion for science with the students in the Veterinary Hospital Assistant Program.


Michelle is a registered veterinary technician that graduated from Olds College in Alberta in 2011.  She has been working at a nearby emergency hospital, Fairfield Animal Hospital, for the last 6 years. Growing up on a small farm in Golden, BC, gave Michelle an early love for all animals and pursuing a career in a field that involved animals was always a dream of hers.  Michelle currently resides in Kelowna with her rescue tuxedo cat, Sassy.  When not working she can be found spending time with her family, camping, horseback riding, and enjoying the outdoors.


Lisa grew up in Osoyoos and began her love for animals at a young age working on a cattle ranch, spending most of her childhood at rodeos with her family. In 2012, she graduated from the Veterinary Hospital Assistant program at the Centre for Arts and Technology. Lisa has applied her education and experience at the KLO Veterinary Hospital, the South Okanagan/Similkameen BCSPCA and she spent 4 years working in Penticton at Anderson Veterinary Clinic, where she assists the Veterinary Technicians and Veterinarians in the clinic treatment and surgery suite. Lisa is excited to join our team at CAT and share her passion for this program and assist students to an exceptional career in the Veterinary industry.  She shares her home with her son, Colton and their rescued Australian Cattle Dogs, Torque and Splash. Lisa and Colton love spending time with their horses on their acreage in the Similkameen Valley.


Dr. Crisanti has over 15 years of experience as a Veterinarian, having owned a practice for almost 10 years just outside of Calgary Alberta. Prior to entering vet school, Kim completed a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology and a Master’s degree in Physiology. In addition to being a practicing veterinarian, Kim helped develop the curriculum for the veterinary school program at the University of Calgary. Dr. Crisanti has a special interest in geriatric care, with a special interest in endocrine diseases as well cardiac medicine. Having recently moved to the beautiful city of Kelowna with her husband and 2 Labrador retriever crosses, Kim enjoys cooking, boxing, hot yoga and enjoying the water sports she and her husband couldn’t enjoy in Alberta.


Shannon is a Veterinary Hospital Assistant that moved to Kelowna in 2018. Shannon has been working in the veterinary field since 2012. She has experience working in shelters, veterinary clinics and emergency hospitals. Currently, Shannon is studying to obtain her Veterinary Technician Associates degree. After graduation, Shannon would like to pursue a Veterinary Technician Specialty in Nutrition. Shannon lives at home with her fiancée and her rescue pug Jimi. In her free time, Shannon enjoys volleyball, board games and spending time outdoors.


Always having a passion for animals and their people, combined with an interest in medicine, Mara pursued a career in Veterinary Technology and graduated with a diploma from SIAST Kelsey Institute (now Sask Polytech) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1995.

She spent three enjoyable years working as a Registered Veterinary Technologist in a busy, three doctor small animal hospital in Regina, SK. With a desire to advance her career, Mara transitioned into the veterinary pharmaceutical industry in 1998 as a Technical Services Representative with Intervet Canada. In 2000, she moved to Calgary, AB where she continued her career in veterinary sales for 19 years, representing leading Animal Health, Pharmaceutical & Diagnostics companies (Aventix, IDEXX, VetStrategy, Bayer). In 2019, she completed a Leadership Development Certificate from Mount Royal University in Calgary. Currently living in Kelowna, BC, she is working with Elanco Animal Health as a Technical Sales Specialist covering the Okanagan and Fraser Valley territories.

Also, with a passion for interior design and home decorating, Mara obtained certification in Professional Home Staging in 2011 and owns a small home staging and gift basket business, primarily providing home décor baskets for new homeowners. Mara and her husband Craig, a realtor with ReMax Kelowna, their two Maltipoos, “Kaia” & “Kali”, and two kitties, “Zoey” & “Milo” are thrilled to be back in BC where Craig is originally from. In her spare time, Mara enjoys gardening, landscaping, boating in the summer, and traveling to tropical destinations in the winter.

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