Meet Minnie: VSU therapy dog helps nursing students through challenging times

Meet Minnie: VSU therapy dog helps nursing students through challenging times

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - Nursing students at Valdosta State University had a tough year trying to learn during the pandemic.

Luckily, they have Minnie around. She is helping students get through some very challenging times.

The 4-year-old Goldendoodle has a hard job on her hands trying to keep students calm and stress-free through petting, games and treats.
The 4-year-old Goldendoodle has a hard job on her hands trying to keep students calm and stress-free through petting, games and treats. (Source: WALB)

“It’s definitely a lot of pressure. Not only are you limited on your time to learn, but also knowing how influential you’ll be in the nursing field when it comes down to graduation. We’re most likely going to be entering the field right away and that’s a lot of pressure on itself,” said Isabelle Ekstan, a nursing student.

Ekstan said having Minnie around is helpful, helps relax her classmates and helps them focus on something else once in a while.

The 4-year-old Goldendoodle has a hard job on her hands trying to keep students calm and stress-free through petting, games and treats.

“She gives them a little break, she gives them a little bit of a distraction, you know. Who doesn’t relax a little bit when you rub on a fluffy puppy,” said Lois Bellflowers, an assistant professor at VSU’s School of Nursing and Minnie’s fur-mom.

She teaches the first semester of senior year.

Bellflowers said when Minnie was a puppy, she noticed how she was interacting with people and realized the impact she can have on her higher education students.

“We also want to teach them some self-care because they are going to go out into nursing and nursing, as a profession, is extremely stressful, so we need them to learn to implement strategies to take care of themselves. So, hopefully, Minnie will help them learn to address and to acknowledge their own stress levels as well as learning self-care, they learn to care for the stress level of their patients and

Nursing students at Valdosta State University had a tough year trying to learn during the pandemic. Luckily, they have Minnie around. She is helping students get through some very challenging times.
Nursing students at Valdosta State University had a tough year trying to learn during the pandemic. Luckily, they have Minnie around. She is helping students get through some very challenging times. (Source: WALB)

colleagues,” said Bellflowers.

Now with the pandemic, social distancing, virtual classes and lack of one-on-one engagement, Bellflowers said it can take a toll on their mental health.

“Watching what recent grads and seasoned nurses are doing out there in the workforce right now, these students are thinking, ‘wow I’m not only learning to be a nurse, but I’m going to be turned out into the nursing field as a new grad into the middle of pandemic,’” said Bellflowers.

She said despite the challenges, students are ready to learn and help save lives soon.

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