Our Careteam

Darren Ishmael

Owner, Manager

Darren and his wife, Dr. Brittany Ishmael, started dating during high school. Ever since, Darren has been right by her side supporting their shared dream: to open their own veterinary clinic. Now Darren has achieved his long-time goal of owning and operating a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital alongside his wife!

Darren grew up in a farming community in Athens, Illinois. He’s been supporting his wife’s career from the very beginning, and has always kept an eye out for the perfect opportunity to launch their own pet hospital. After settling in the Effingham area to raise their daughter, that opportunity arose—Advanced Veterinary care was born, and the hospital opened their doors for business on February 2nd, 2015.

Darren and Dr. Ishmael have a beautiful young daughter, Gwyn, and share their home with many pets. As a family, they enjoy ranch sorting and horseback riding in their spare time.

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Alicia Barnick

Veterinary Technician

Alicia had worked with Dr. Ishmael previously at another veterinary clinic. When she heard that Dr. Ishmael was coming back to town and opening her very own hospital, Alicia knew what she had to do. Alicia contacted Dr. Ishmael about a position immediately and was thrilled to help her open Advanced Veterinary Care!

Alicia grew up outside of Neoga, Illinois on Lake Mattoon. She attended Murray State University, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in animal health technology and became a certified Veterinary Technician.

Alicia’s favorite part of the day is seeing a happy, healthy animal walk out the door into the arms of their loving owner. Working closely with Dr. Ishmael and seeing a case all the way through is extremely rewarding for her!

At home, Alicia and her husband Brock live with a chocolate lab named Ace. Together, they enjoy camping and spending time in the great outdoors.

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Erin Wickham

Veterinary Assistant

For as long as she can remember, Erin has wanted to work in the veterinary field. By the time high school came along, she was taking all the science and math classes that could fit into her schedule. After studying animal services in college, she returned to the Effingham area and started working in veterinary clinics. Erin has been helping pets as a veterinary professional for 17 years!

Erin grew up south of Dieterich and attended the University of Illinois to receive her degree. She worked with Dr. Ishmael for nine years at another pet hospital, and jumped at the opportunity to work with her again when she heard that Advanced Veterinary Care was opening. Erin began here at the clinic in January of 2015.

Erin, her husband Kevin, and their two boys, Jacob and Wade, share their home with a cat named Gracie and a Labrador retriever named Widgeon. As a family, they enjoy duck and goose hunting, boating, and camping.

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Brittany Niemerg


Although she’d always adored her family pets, Brittany didn’t truly fall in love with the veterinary profession until working with Dr. Ishmael in another Effingham animal hospital. Dr. Ishmael’s expansive knowledge of medicine and down-to-earth nature assured Brittany that the animal care world was the place for her!

Brittany grew up south of Dieterich, Illinois with her parents, sister, and brother. She started her veterinary career when a friend told her about an opening at a local clinic. There, Brittany met Dr. Ishmael. When Brittany heard that Dr. Ishmael was opening her own clinic, she jumped at the chance to work with her again.

Seeing the smile on a pet owner’s face when their furry friend is returned to them is Brittany’s favorite part of working in veterinary medicine. She also loves interacting with clients and pets; no two days are ever quite the same!

Brittany and her husband Clint live with a rambunctious puppy named Mylee, and they also own two horses named Clyde and Daisy. When she isn’t tending to her own pets or caring for animals around the hospital, Brittany enjoys camping and four-wheeling with her husband.

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