Unique Veterinary Learning Environment at Nashoba Valley Technical High School Grooms Tomorrow’s Veterinary Leaders, Provides Quality Medical Care for Low Income Pet Owners
BOSTON and Westford, Mass. Feb. 15, 2018 – The next generation of highly trained veterinary assistants is set to emerge from Angell at Nashoba when the five seniors enrolled in the program at Nashoba Valley Technical High School in Westford, Mass. graduate this June, the MSPCA’s Angell Animal Medical Center announced today.
Angell at Nashoba opened its doors two years ago to provide veterinary care for low income pet owners while serving as a rigorous academic and experiential training experience for students enrolled at the premiere career-focused public high school—and already has 50 students enrolled in grades nine through 12.
The students learn animal science theory and veterinary medicine in the classroom from licensed Chapter 74 teachers and then practice applying what they learn with live animals in the clinic.
From Startup to Standout – Angell at Nashoba Ramps Up
The clinic’s medical director, Dr. Laurence Sawyer, anticipated that the program would be popular, but she herself is surprised by how quickly students embraced the potential for careers in veterinary medicine.
“The five students who’ll graduate in June represent the clinic’s first graduates. Twelve juniors are already enrolled and another 20 students from the sophomore class are in the program—which means we’ve essentially doubled in size each year,” said Dr. Sawyer.
“There is such a need in the veterinary profession for trained and motivated assistants and technicians and it’s been so rewarding to be in at the ground level, getting these young adults engaged and excited about the profession,” she said.
To keep pace with the demand for the veterinary assistance program, the school added a second teacher. And the clinic has grown to four employees, with three veterinary technicians and an intern now assisting Dr. Sawyer.
Quality Veterinary Care for Low-Income Pet Owners
While the clinic is first and foremost a training program for students interested in careers in veterinary science, it also fulfills a vital need in the community: access to quality veterinary care for low income pet owners. In the last two years the clinic has:
- Received over 1,300 visits from pet owners
- Performed over 300 surgeries (including 150 spays and neuters) on companion animals
- Administered over 600 rabies vaccines
- Performed over 50 dental procedures
Dr. Sawyer is especially grateful that so many pet owners have brought their pets to the clinic to be spayed or neutered. “The spay and neuter surgeries we’ve performed in the last two years have prevented the birth of thousands of unwanted companion animals, which drastically reduces the population of homeless animals in our community,” she said.
The clinic also provides care to sick patients. “It’s so rewarding to help these pets feel better and get out of pain so they can be reunited with their owners,” said Dr. Sawyer.
The students have been instrumental in delivering this level of care by performing essential tasks such as client and patient intake, record keeping, appointment setting, animal restraint, laboratory testing and the like, all supervised under the direction of the medical team.
High Profile Attention from Regional Leaders
Nashoba Valley Technical High School has been visited several times in the last year by some of the highest profile political leaders in the state. Gov. Baker toured the school—including the Angell at Nashoba clinic—in October, and State Representative James Arciero (D-Westford) visited at the end of January to publicly underscore the need for high-quality technical education.
Denise Pigeon, superintendent of Nashoba Valley Technical High School, said of Angell at Nashoba: “Our partnership with Angell has been an amazing experience and provides an on-campus opportunity for our students to gain clinical experience in addition to their studies, which we view as an invaluable component to their education.”
Angell at Nashoba will be open weekdays from 7:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. throughout the year. The clinic does not provide overnight care, specialty care or 24/7 emergency service, as Angell’s Boston and Waltham facilities do, but will refer cases as appropriate to surrounding specialty veterinary referral hospitals. Appointments can be scheduled via phone at 978-577-5992.