• High school students complete core and career education, serve apprenticeships, achieve certification and receive job placement assistance
• Education and training will emphasize One Health approach to integrate animal and human health
• Results will serve urban and rural communities
• Program developed by the FAZD Center and funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – High school students across the United States will prepare for careers as veterinary and medical paraprofessionals under a new education program developed by the National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense (FAZD Center) and funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The One Health Career-Oriented Youth Educational National Program is designed to address a national shortage in paraprofessionals to provide support to human and animal medicine. The program’s goal of qualifying students as paraprofessionals – as well as its emphasis on the public health and regulatory aspects of zoonotic and exotic diseases – will provide graduates with a high probability of employment.

Developed by FAZD Center principal investigator Dr. Floron Faries, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, the program includes a national “One Health” component in integrated human, animal and environmental health sciences.

The phrase “One Health” refers to an international initiative to integrate human and veterinary medicine. At least 60 percent of all human pathogens are transmissible between human and animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The One Health Initiative is endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association and American (AVMA) Medical Association (AMA).

The program will enhance job placement assistance for the veterinary and medical paraprofessional workforce as well as community economic development in urban and rural areas. The program teaches students through high school career and technology programs.

The curriculum consists of 75 core lessons on basic veterinary science, plus career education in three tracks, each with 25 lessons: clinical sciences, One Health science and technology, and laboratory research/diagnostic science and technology. It is published as a handbook and as a web-based course with interactive features to establish a national curriculum in workforce development of youth, "Veterinary Science: Preparatory Training for Veterinary Assistants", in the fall of 2010.

For job training, students serve as apprentices in career environments of their choosing. They observe professionals at work and receive 120 hours of on-the-job training before achieving certification.

About the FAZD Center
The National Center for Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Defense (FAZD Center) performs research and develops products to defend the nation from high-consequence foreign animal and zoonotic diseases. Founded in April 2004 as a DHS Center of Excellence, the FAZD Center leverages the resources of 12 major universities, nine Minority Serving Institutions and two National Laboratories. The FAZD Center focuses on research, education and outreach to prevent, detect, mitigate and recover from zoonotic (which are transmissible between animals and humans) and exotic animal diseases, which may be introduced intentionally or through natural processes. The FAZD Center is headquartered at Texas A&M University, the nation’s sixth-largest university by enrollment. Opened in 1876 as Texas' first public institution of higher learning, Texas A&M is a research-intensive flagship university with 38,000-plus undergraduates and more than 9,000 graduate students studying in over 250 degree programs in 10 colleges. With a record $582 million invested in research, Texas A&M ranks in the top tier of universities nationwide in research expenditures.