Our Team

Jordan Nickell, DVM |Medical Director

Dr. Nickell received his BS in biochemistry and his DVM from the University of Missouri, after which he moved to Gainesville, Florida, and completed a small animal rotating internship at the University of Florida. He then completed a 3-year residency at the University of California – Davis. After finishing his residency, Dr. Nickell accepted a one-year, Post-Doctoral fellowship in anesthesiology at Colorado State University. He then moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where he was a clinical instructor at North Carolina State University for one year. The next four years included another one-year stay at Colorado State University as a staff anesthesiologist, a faculty position as a clinical assistant professor at Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona, and as the anesthesiologist at Veterinary Specialty Hospital in San Diego, California.

He moved to Washington State in November 2020 and has been working at Summit Veterinary Referral Center in Tacoma since then. He and his wife have two cats, Munch and Pickett, and two dogs, Poppy Seed (American Bully) and Peanut Butter (French Bulldog). When not a work, Dr. Nickell enjoys being on the water in any way possible as well as hiking. He also is an avid fan of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Lauren Hamil, DVM, DACVS | Surgeon

Dr. Lauren Hamil grew up in Tallahassee, Florida and attended the University of Florida for her undergraduate degree. While earning her degree in zoology she worked at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as with fruit bats through a local conservancy. During college, she realized her passion for veterinary medicine but also for the outdoors and was an active member of the UF outdoor recreation club. Her love of animals and the outdoors led her to Fort Collins, Colorado where she earned her DVM from Colorado State University. 

During her first two years of veterinary school, she worked in the CSU Oncology Clinical Trials Service and did research with the Radiation Oncology Service. As she entered her clinical years in veterinary school, Dr. Hamil realized her passion for small animal surgery. After earning her DVM, she moved back to the southeast where she completed a rigorous one-year small animal rotating internship at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Dr. Hamil then moved back to Fort Collins to begin her residency in small animal orthopedic and soft tissue surgery. During her residency at CSU, she performed research in wound management as well as canine laryngeal paralysis, and concurrently completed a master’s degree. After her residency, she attained board certification as a small animal surgeon and enjoys all aspects of soft tissue and orthopedic surgery, especially minimally invasive surgery.

Today, Dr. Hamil works as a surgeon for Summit Veterinary Referral Center in Tacoma, Washington. When she is not at work, Dr. Hamil enjoys hiking and exploring the pacific northwest with her husband. She loves spending time with their two fur babies, cats Munch and Pickett.

Michael Stone, DVM

Dr. Michael Stone is a 1999 graduate of Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. In 2000 he completed an internship in Emergency and Critical Care in Milwaukee, WI. Since his graduation, Dr. Stone has been practicing emergency and critical care medicine.

In his spare time he enjoys hiking, backpacking, gardening and woodworking near his home in Gig Harbor and around Kitsap County or beyond on the Olympic Peninsula.

Cameron Smithee, DVM

Dr. Cameron Smithee is an emergency medicine and wildlife veterinarian from Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Although originally from the Rocky Mountain’s most colorful state, Dr. Smithee’s interest in nature and medicine has lead him to call five different states home – in addition to the South American country of Peru.  Prior to receiving his doctorate of veterinary medicine from Oklahoma State University, Smithee pursued a degree in Zoology from the University of Oklahoma.  An adventurist at heart, he loves backcountry snowboarding, kayaking, vigorous hikes, and traveling the globe – or nearest wilderness.  When stuck inside, Smithee can be found reading, perfecting his culinary skills, or promoting his small art business.

Emma Spatz, DVM

Dr. Emma Spatz received her Neuroscience degree from Michigan State University in 2014. She worked as an assistant/uncertified tech for two years at an emergency and referral center in Bloomfield, Michigan before being accepted to the University of Glasgow.

Emma had two cats that are now in her reluctant parents’ custody until further notice, but she hopefully be getting a new four-legged friend in the near future to accompany her on hikes. Her other favorite activities include running, camping, the morning crossword, and playing games of all sorts.

Rawnie Torres, DVM, CVMMP-SA, CVA, CVFT

Dr. Rawnie Torres started working at Animal Emergency & Specialty Center in November of 2021 and has been working in the veterinary field since 2004. She completed undergraduate studies at Evergreen State College and received her DVM from Washington State University in 2013. She worked as a general small animal practitioner before deciding to focus on emergency and integrative medicine. She has obtained her CVA (Certified Veterinary Accupuncturist), CVFT (Certified Veterinary Food Therapist) and CVMMP- Small Animal (Certified Veterinary Medical Manipulation Practitioner) and is currently pursuing her Master’s in TCVM and integrative veterinary medicine through the Chi University.

Rawnie and her husband of 15+ years are originally from Los Angeles, CA. They enjoy hiking, camping, gardening, and chasing after their many animals: 3 tiny humans, 2 dogs, and 2 cats.

David Burgess, DVM

Dr. David Burgess graduated from the University of Arizona in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture. In 1987, he received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Iowa State University. He’s been practicing emergency and critical medicine since 1988 with a special interest in soft tissue surgery, endoscopy, and emergency surgery.

Dr. Burgess resides in Poulsbo with his wife Jackie, their two boxers (Bug and Ali), and their cat Belle. Dr. Burgess enjoys hiking, biking, martial arts, painting, fishing, kayaking, woodworking/carving and guitar.

Dr. Burgess founded AETC with Dr. Carollynn Zimmers in 1993. Animal Emergency and Trauma Center is a 24 hour animal emergency hospital in Poulsbo. AETC serves areas as far East as Bainbridge Island, North to Kingston, South to Port Orchard and Gig Harbor and across the Hood Canal Bridge to Port Townsed and Port Angeles. Before starting the emergency animal hospital in Poulsbo, he worked as relief doctor for many veterinary hospitals in Kitsap County including Silverdale, Bremerton, Port Orchard, Bainbridge Island and Kingston.

Amity MacKinnon, LVT | Technology and Operations Manager

Amity MacKinnon became a licensed veterinary technician in 2000 and continued on to complete her bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Technology in 2002, becoming a veterinary technologist. Because of her husband’s military career, Amity has worked in veterinary medicine across the country, but her favorite discipline has always been emergency medicine. She has advanced throughout her career with AESC and is now a member of our leadership team as our Technology and Operations Manager. 
Amity enjoys hiking, running, skiing, and spending time with her husband John, and her kids, Mac and Emily. Their family live in Poulsbo with their dogs, cats, chickens, and bees.

Diane Gates | Leadership Administrator

Diane Gates has worked in the veterinary field for over 30 years and joined Animal Emergency & Specialty Center in 2012.

She has worked in patient care and has a long history specializing in customer service. Her extensive experience is shared with our staff as she leads classes in Client Services.

Diane is honored to be a caregiver to her mother Judy, and share her love of the Pacific Northwest with her. Her favorite things to do when not working are reading, gardening, and being on the water.

Diane has two cats, Opossum and The Panther, and is AESC’s official “Cat Lady”. She has even named our cat ward the Diane Gates Memorial Feline Ward, despite being very much alive.

Charlotte Neale, LVT, VTS (ECC) | Training Coordinator

Charlotte Neale has worked in the veterinary field since 1998. Her first 10 years were spent in shelters, followed by general practice medicine, and then emergency and specialty care. Charlotte is a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT) and a Veterinary Technician Specialist in Emergency and Critical Care (VTS, ECC). She has a Bachelor’s degree in Management and will soon complete her Master’s degree in Biology with an emphasis in Higher Education.

Since 2014, Charlotte has taught veterinary technology students enrolled in an Associate’s degree program. Her favorite subjects to teach are anesthesia, anatomy and physiology, and laboratory procedures. She’s originally from Western New York, but lived in Arizona from 2004 until recently. In 2022, Charlotte and her family moved to the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. She is an unapologetic “cat person” and recently branched out into an aquarist hobby. 

As AESC’s Training Coordinator, Charlotte’s role in the hospital is to ensure that the staff has hands-on skills and the most current knowledge they need to care for patients, as well as to support the local veterinary community with continuing education opportunities.


Alivia Wheaton, LVT | Operations Manager of People

Alivia Wheaton graduated from UNC Wilmington with a BS in Marine Biology. While in college, she began her veterinary career as a kennel attendant in a local animal hospital. After graduation, she continued working in the veterinary field after moving to WA state, and in 2003, she became a Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT). Alivia found a passion for emergency medicine and has been working with AESC in some capacity since 2003. During that time, she has continued to learn and grow as a technician, and ultimately into the People and Operations Manager she is today. Alivia is proud of the team she has helped to build and support at AESC and is dedicated to the continued growth of the hospital.

In her down time, Alivia enjoys spending time with her husband Chris, and her young children, Madi and Cash. They share their home with an energetic dog, two goldfish, and two bala sharks. Together (except for the fish), they work on a vast array of projects, explore the Kitsap Peninsula, and try to get outside as much as possible!

Nancy Hunziker LVT | Inventory Manager

Nancy Hunziker has worked in the veterinary field since 1997.  Although she has worked in family practice as well, her passion has been emergency medicine. Nancy joined what was then, Animal Emergency & Trauma Center in 2001, and became a licensed veterinary technician in 2010.

After an amazing 21 years providing patient care for Animal Emergency, she has now advanced to Inventory Manager, overseeing the entire hospital inventory. Nancy has retained her LVT status and does help with patient care from time to time. (Especially if the patient is a Newfoundland!)

When not working, Nancy enjoys spending time with her grandkids and traveling. She especially loves cruises and anywhere with a beautiful beach.