Thanks to the coordination efforts of BCOM librarians Erin Palazzolo and Norice Lee, the Therapaws therapy dogs recently visited BCOM to provide a little bit of stressbusting relief for the medical students. “When Erin was at Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine, the therapy dogs would come in regularly. While I was working at NMSU, they would come in a couple times a semester. We saw firsthand how beneficial the program is and decided we should do it here at BCOM,” Norice said.

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Therapaws is part of a national organization, the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. Interactions with trained therapy dogs have been shown to help increase happiness, lower blood pressure, and improve overall well-being. According to Best Colleges Online, “If only for a day, these dogs turn into the stars of the college, attracting hundreds of students at a time to give them love and attention, while giving them a bright spot amid the drudgery of exams.”

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Beyond stress management, the dogs also serve as an excellent learning opportunity for BCOM students, faculty, and staff. Participants are exposed to the health and wellness benefits of animal therapy programs and introduced to a service they may encounter (or want to implement) in a hospital or other medical setting.

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Norice and Erin reached out to Nancy Chanover, an Associate Professor from the NMSU Astronomy Department, who is also a therapy dog handler. She recenlty brought her dog, Striking the Wonder Dog (you probably know him from the NMSU football games), along with several others to provide some pre-exam stress relief for BCOM students. “We’re thrilled with the turnout and response from the students at the first visit, so they will be returning in December and we hope to make it a regular occurrence,” Norice said.

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Want to meet the pooches yourself? They will be on the 2nd floor balcony by the staircase on Tuesday, December 6 from 1pm-2pm and again on Tuesday, December 20 from 3pm-4pm.