Angell at Essex, a collaboration between MSPCA Angell Animal Medical Center and Essex Tech, gives high-school students hands-on training. Students from many North Shore communities, including Boxford, Middleton, Hamilton, Danvers, Beverly and Ipswich are getting training there this year.

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Is there anything better than a Labrador retriever and a young boy and his cat to liven things up?

The reception area was quiet when we first arrived at the Angell at Essex animal clinic at Essex Tech. Students were gathered around the computer with Practice Coordinator Tracy McNair. Then, student Ella Martin brought Cooper out to demonstrate how dogs are checked in, and Tina Monczewski arrived with her young son and their cat, Opie, who needed a checkup.

The energy level shot right up, but that's the whole idea of the partnership between Angell Animal Medical Center and Essex Tech, giving students a taste of what it's really like to work with animals.

Essex Tech Superintendent Heidi Riccio said, “We’re excited to be able to give an authentic learning experience for our vet science students on our property prior to them going out into the field.”

 

Student Ava Keller, of Middleton, said, ”Angell gives students the opportunity to get real world experience before they go out on cooperative education. Currently, a lot of veterinary clinics or offices do not hire students under the age of 18, so it gives students first-hand experience working in a live clinic.”

Boxford resident Alma Marresse said, ”I love the idea of knowing that I will get the experience with the public and working in a clinic right at my school.”

Vet science student Chris Jackson, of Chelmsford, was there when the Transcript visited.

“I came in really open minded," he said, "which is a plus because there’s just so many options and so many opportunities here.”

Jackson, who is vice president of the school’s chapter of the National FFA Organization (formerly Future Farmers of America), said he’s been passionate about veterinary science for a long time and is glad to be getting a head start with hands-on experience in high school.

He said he’s been learning anatomy, physiology, immunology, and lab work.

“It’s definitely a really broad shop,” he said, “and I’ve gotten to get a taste of everything about animal science.”

Ella Martin, of Danvers, wants to be a veterinary surgeon and plans to go to college after graduation. She, too, said she appreciates the hands-on approach to learning.

“These are things that I can apply to the real world,” she said.

Martin said she’s been able to work with dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, rodents, horses, and livestock.

Dogs are her favorite, she said, “Because, if they’re friendly, they’ll give kisses.”

Overseeing it all is Dr. Erin Turowski.

She said when the clinic first opened on Dec. 2, the staff spent some time building up a client base so the students would have animals to work with.

“We took those first couple months to establish relationships with pet owners in the area,” Turowski said.

The clinic is open to the public and offers reduced rates for clients who qualify.

“Right now, it’s about half and half, low-income and standard-pay clients,” Turowski said.

The students are involved in every aspect of the practice, from checking animals in at the reception desk to hands-on exams.

Students Michael O’Connor, of Peabody, and Julia Brockman, of Marblehead, joined Practice Supervisor Laura Shields for the appointment with Tina Monczewski and her 9-year-old, orange tabby Opie. They learned what questions to ask the client when taking the history, and then they and several other students assisted Shields with getting a blood sample from Opie, who was calm through the process.

Angell at Essex has come a long way. The clinic saw its first patient, Finnegan the cat, on Dec. 2, 2019. On Feb. 14, 2020, it hit a milestone with its 100th and 101st patients, a couple of basset hound puppies named Stanley and Pearl.

The Angell at Essex animal clinic is located on the campus of Essex TEch, 565 Maple St., Danvers. The clinic provides all standard veterinary services. For information or to make an appointment, call 978-304-4648 or visit www.mspca.org/angell_services/angell-at-essex/.