HESI Veterinary Technology Exit Exam Provides VTNE-like Experience for Students

As an educator for three years, Tammy Kramer finds the HESI Veterinary Technology Exit exam is a good exam and useful for VTNE prep. Kramer is the Director of the Veterinary Technology Program at Lancaster County Career & Technology Center in Willow Street, Pennsylvania.  Prior to education, she spent 25 years working in private practice small animal facilities.

Educational programs like Kramer’s typically offer guidance post-graduation to help students prepare for the national exam, and how they can be successful after school is over should they choose not to take it.

While there is no nationwide requirement to pass the VTNE, most state and provincial agencies use the VTNE to evaluate competency for entry level veterinary technicians. Currently, only four states and provinces do not require the exam or cite it as voluntary.

“During our VTNE prep, we use the HESI to see how well the students have learned over the two years that they have been in school. So, this is like their final exit test, that they actually take to see what they have comprehended and then that gives them more of an idea on what to look for as far the state boards,” Kramer says. “They don’t get that until their second year when they’re in their final semester, after they’ve actually done their externship or practicum.”

Setting the Stage for Success

Lancaster County Career & Technology Center’s Veterinary Technology program has only recently begun offering the HESI exam to their students this past year. According to Kramer, the success of the exam was also due in large part to their implementation strategies.

“We had them in a separate room, they weren’t allowed to use their own laptops, they had to use school issued computers. They had a timer on the computer, which was great, they weren’t allowed anything to eat or drink,” Kramer says. “We set up everything exactly the way the state boards want it to.”

HESI proctored exams are all administered through a secure testing browser that allows faculty the ability to not only control which computers can access an exam through extensive security settings, but also to customize the exam experience with timers and other settings. A designated exam proctor can control the exam during testing, providing the ability to check individual student progress, pause the exam for breaks, or reconnect students clicking out of the secure exam browser.

“We had 15 students that took the test last year and they all said the best thing they liked about it was being able to actually have it set up as if we were taking the state boards.” Kramer says, “HESI helped out with that, as far as having the timer, having the calculator pop up when there was a calculation that needed to be done.”

Analyzing Results for Positive Outcomes

While the mock test-taking experience is valuable to her students, Kramer also recognizes that the most important work needed for VTNE success comes after taking the HESI exam. A student that scores at or above the recommended HESI score is likely to go on to pass the national exam.

“Some of the students that scored high when they actually took their boards then in November, they actually did really well. The ones that scored lower, these were the ones that we knew were going to fail and had some work to do,” Kramer says. “I think the students got into the habit of reviewing the feedback afterwards, to be able to see exactly what they did wrong, and what areas they needed to work on before they take that state board, which was helpful for them.”

Prioritizing Valuable Study Time

HESI individual student scoring reports detail each student’s unique knowledge deficits, with content areas clearly identified so students know exactly where they should prioritize their study time prior to the exam. While her students do most of their final study on their own, Kramer does incorporate strategies for students to build good study habits throughout the program.

“After a test is given, the instructor goes over the test the next day, once everybody has taken it,” Kramer says. “We pull that up on the whiteboard and we can go over each question and it’ll tell us how many people got things wrong. So maybe 100 percent of all the students got that question right so we don’t really need to review because everybody got that thing. But there is something that maybe only two people got right and that’s something we’re going to review,”

Prioritizing Valuable Dollars

Making effective use of time is just as important to a program’s well-being as making effective use of dollars. Kramer has some thoughts to share on her experience:

“I know a lot of schools don’t have a big budget for veterinary technology to use things, so I think if it stays within a reasonable price range, I think it’s a good thing to purchase for part of their budget.”

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