Education & Family

Dogs give therapy to stressed veterinary students

Vet students with dogs Image copyright University of Surrey
Image caption Veterinary students get dog therapy at Surrey University

Stressed trainee vets have taken a break from learning about animal health and invited in a team of dogs to help them cope with exam revision.

The dogs lay on the floor and let themselves be stroked and cuddled in the event at Surrey University.

"It helped us remember why we wanted to be vets," said 21-year-old student Lucy Hicklenton.

"Although we spend a lot of time with dogs, they are usually used as educational tools as part of a lesson."

Ms Hicklenton added: "We all really like animals. It was a fun way and a different way for people to have an excuse not to revise."

Placements

She is one of 48 students at the UK's newest school of veterinary medicine, which opened its doors in September.

The first-year exams start in just over a week and the students are nervous.

"We are not sure what to expect really and there is no-one in the year above to ask."

The course is five years long and students have practical placements during every holiday.

"At Easter I spent four weeks in Scotland, lambing. I haven't been home since Christmas and I really miss my own pets," said Ms Hicklenton.

She enlisted the help of the local branch of Pets as Therapy (Pat). A team of nine dogs and their owners took over a room in the university and 30 first-year veterinary students turned up to meet them.

The dogs usually work with patients in care homes and hospitals but coped well with their new role.

"This was an unusual request," said Bridget Roberts, a Pat dog supporter who is also the university's clinical skills laboratory manager.

"It could have been stressful for the dogs but these dogs are very experienced and assessed as being temperamentally suitable.

"The students came out with gleaming faces. It was a very successful event," said Ms Roberts.

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