June 03, 2016 | | Comments 0
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Animal therapy not just for patients

We hear all the time about how nursing is one of the most stressful professions in the country. This combined with the struggles with nurse retention has led a few hospitals to get creative with helping out their stressed-out nurses: Animal therapy sessions.

Animal therapy has been used with patients for years, particularly to help patients with trauma and mental health disorders. Inspired by these results, executives at University of Pennsylvania hospital and Rush University Medical Center (RUMC) instituted regular animal therapy sessions for their employees. Penn’s “pet a pooch” program was instituted by ER nurse Heather Matthew, brought in dogs from local shelters to spend time with their employees. In addition to helping the stressed-out staff, over a dozen dogs have been adopted since the program started three years ago.

After seeing the positive effects of Penn’s program, RUMC started their own program called “Pet Pause.” Hospital staff immediately reported feeling less stressed after their animal therapy sessions, and an internal study confirmed that the sessions lowered participants blood pressure and increased staff morale. Studies elsewhere have shown that animal therapy reduces stress hormones, and management researchers have found improvements in employee satisfaction and productivity when dogs are allowed in the workplace.

Do you have paws program at your facility? Let us know in the comments!

For more information, check out the Chicago Tribune article.

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Filed Under: Care for the caregiverHealth and wellness

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About the Author: Kenneth Michek is the Associate Editor for nurse management at HCPro.

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