Skip to main content

Military Health System

USU Facility Dogs Help De-stress USU Med Students

Image of A dog interacts with students. Shetland, one of USU med school’s two facility dogs, gets attention and provides some fun interactions with med school students. (Photo: Courtesy of Kameha Bell, assistant dean, Well-Being Program, USU School of Medicine Office of Student Affairs)

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Mental Health is Health Care

Daily demands on students at the Uniformed Services University’s F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine can be stressful.

That’s where Shetland and Grover, USU’s designated facility dogs, come into play – literally.

The Hebert School of Medicine is the first and only medical school with a full-time complement of facility dogs.

Shetland, a yellow Lab; and Grover, a black Lab, often wander through the student lounge, library, or school courtyard seeking out hugs or getting belly rubs from students as part of their official duties to comfort, de-stress, and calm them.

While Shetland is calm and dignified, Grover is a bit more energetic and goofy. Each brings his own personality to student interactions.

Having the dogs “builds community and adds a little levity,” said Kameha Bell, assistant dean of the Office of Student Affairs’ Well-Being Program.

Bell leads the facility dog program at the medical school and is Shetland’s guardian.

“The ultimate goal is to support the well-being of our community,” she said.

Dogs on a Mission

Shetland and Grover’s mission is to promote wellness on campus as well as the benefits and responsible use of animal-assisted interventions in health care, referred to broadly as pet therapy.

Bell and highly trained student handlers spend part of their time with the dogs at events, such as university blood drives, where they explain the differences between service dogs, facility dogs, and companion animals.

Facility dogs like Shetland and Grover are service dogs trained to perform a variety of physical tasks, such as providing emotional and physical support for veterans with disabilities, low-vision, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

As facility dogs, they also provide comfort and affection in a variety of settings to help improve physical, social, emotional, and cognitive functioning.

Before he was selected to be USU’s first facility dog in 2019, Shetland trained for four months with an accredited service-training organization. He then completed several more weeks of training to ensure he was acclimated to his new home.

Grover underwent the same training regimens and was recently inducted into service.

Stressors

Extra stress can come at exam time or in preparation for the medical school’s Bushmaster simulated deployment practicum at the end of the four-year program.

It’s then that Shetland and Grover get reinforcement from the Red Cross Therapy Dogs, said Navy Ensign Kimberly Dodd, a med student and one of USU’s facility dog student handlers.

“If someone feels like they might not do as well on that exam, we have the dogs there for social support,” said Dodd.

Having all the facility dogs from USU and Walter Reed together “really brings up the mood on exam days when students need that extra support,” she added.

Other military hospitals and clinics have facility dogs to support patients and staff. These include:

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland

Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas

Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

• Naval Medical Center Portsmouth in Virginia

Shetland & Grover’s Impact

Shetland and Grover are ambassadors of the benefits facility animals can bring.

Their impact at USU is primarily “joy,” said Marine Col. (Dr.) Catherine Kimball-Eayrs, commandant of the medical school.

It’s also “the peace and calm that the dogs can bring” to stressed-out medical students.

“The students start to relax and have fun with the dogs,” she said. “To watch the joy of that interaction, and how it brings some peace and calm to folks’ lives in a time where none of the schools -- medical school, nursing school, any other -- is easy, is very rewarding.”

A second major impact, said Kimball-Eayrs, is that students learn the role of animal-assisted interventions.

“Our students are exposed to facility dogs and understand their role in a community,” she said. “This helps them prepare for when they come across facility dogs at other military hospitals, clinics, and programs.”

And “when [USU students] are future health care providers, they can help spread the knowledge and support and, in the right situation, maybe get a dog placed with a service member who could really benefit from it,” she said.

Shetland & Grover - USU Facility Dogs

You also may be interested in...

5 Tips to Stay Mission Ready

Video
6/23/2021
5 Tips to Stay Mission Ready

Getting the job done in the military takes more than just physical strength. Whether you are at home or abroad, follow these tips to stay mission ready and mentally fit.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Real Warriors Campaign

Understanding and Coping with Natural and Human-made Disasters

Video
6/23/2021
Understanding and Coping with Natural and Human-made Disasters

Disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, and peacetime terrorist attacks, can negatively impact your psychological health. Learn how to manage your stress reactions.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Disaster Prep Toolkit | Real Warriors Campaign

You Are Your Partner's Biggest Support

Video
6/23/2021
You Are Your Partner's Biggest Support

Military life can be difficult for couples. Learn how to keep your relationship resilient to endure difficult times and stay mission ready.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Real Warriors Campaign

Learn How to Prioritize Your Psychological Health

Video
6/23/2021
Learn How to Prioritize Your Psychological Health

Taking care of yourself can help balance life’s demands. These tips can help you manage time and make your psychological health a top priority.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Real Warriors Campaign

Get Ready for Your First Appointment

Video
6/23/2021
Get Ready for Your First Appointment

When you meet with a health care provider for the first time, it’s important to be honest about your concerns to make the best treatment plan for you. Learn tips to help you get ready.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Real Warriors Campaign

4 Ways to Cope with Survivor Guilt

Video
6/23/2021
4 Ways to Cope with Survivor Guilt

When a fellow warrior dies or is injured in battle, it’s common to have feelings of shock, regret or guilt. This is known as Survivor guilt. Learn how you can stay psychologically fit.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Real Warriors Campaign

Know the Signs: Preventing Prescription Misuse

Video
6/23/2021
Know the Signs: Preventing Prescription Misuse

Prescription drug misuse can lead to challenges staying psychologically and physically fit. Learn the warning signs of prescription drug misuse to stay mission ready.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Substance Abuse | Real Warriors Campaign

Taking the First Step to Access Behavioral Health Care

Video
6/21/2021
Taking the First Step to Access Behavioral Health Care

Seeking care early = a healthier life. Learn how you can get connected with a health care provider.

Recommended Content:

Real Warriors Campaign | Psychological Fitness

59 Sec PSA Persistence in Care and Treatment

Video
6/18/2021
59 Sec PSA Persistence in Care and Treatment

Finding the right provider and right type of treatment takes time and patience. Hear how Air National Guard Capt. Casey Ross persisted to find treatment that worked for her and encourage her military family to do the same.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Real Warriors Campaign

59 Sec PSA Not All Trauma is Combat Related

Video
6/18/2021
59 Sec PSA Not All Trauma is Combat Related

After spending years reliving memories of childhood trauma, Air National Guard Capt. Casey Ross realized seeking psychological health care was the only way she’d be able to move forward. Hear why she took this critical first step to improve her career and personal well-being.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Real Warriors Campaign

59 Sec PSA Embracing Psychological Health Treatment

Video
6/18/2021
59 Sec PSA Embracing Psychological Health Treatment

After engaging in care herself and receiving support from her squadron commander and military family, Air National Guard Capt. Casey Ross is working with her unit and military family to share the message that you can get stronger through psychological health treatment.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Real Warriors Campaign

59 Sec PSA Overcoming the Barriers of Seeking Treatment

Video
6/18/2021
59 Sec PSA Overcoming the Barriers of Seeking Treatment

After realizing she needed treatment, Air National Guard Capt. Casey Ross felt ashamed and thought she needed to hide it from her command and feared she would lose her flight status. Hear how Capt. Ross overcame the barriers and stigma around seeking care, and how her command and military family fully supported her decision to seek care.

Recommended Content:

Psychological Fitness | Real Warriors Campaign

Start the Conversation

Video
6/18/2021
Start the Conversation

It’s not always obvious when someone is experiencing depression or thinking about suicide. In this video, learn how you can identify signs of distress and take action by starting the conversation about getting help.

Recommended Content:

Centers of Excellence | Psychological Fitness | Suicide Prevention

Start the Conversation 59 Sec PSA

Video
6/18/2021
Start the Conversation 59 Sec PSA

Talking to someone about getting help can be difficult. This video introduces some tips to help you start the conversation.

Recommended Content:

Real Warriors Campaign | Psychological Fitness | Suicide Prevention

Start the Conversation 29 Sec PSA

Video
6/18/2021
Start the Conversation 29 Sec PSA

Talking to someone about getting help can be difficult. This video introduces some tips to help you start the conversation.

Recommended Content:

Real Warriors Campaign | Psychological Fitness | Suicide Prevention
<< < 1 2 3 > >> 
Showing results 16 - 30 Page 2 of 3
Refine your search
Last Updated: August 04, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery