Friendly canines offer students a study break during exams

December 11, 2014

An organizer behind a special event at the IU School of Medicine recently cited the wisdom of "Peanuts" comic creator Charles M. Schulz: "Happiness is a warm puppy."

Volunteers from the Indiana Canine Assistant Network, along with their canine companions, delivered a welcome study break Dec. 5 to medical students mired in "book, boards and wards" during final exams. ICAN is an Indianapolis-based group that trains and places assistance service dogs with adults and children with disabilities throughout Indiana. The chance to interact with animals has been shown to be an effective -- and fun -- way to provide relief to people coping with stress.

"Medical students have a lot on their plates to learn everything we're required to know," said Kelsey Booth, a second-year medical student and liaison for the IUSM Wellness Committee. "In the long term, this will benefit our future patients; but in the short term, it can be very stressful and overwhelming.  A study break with a dog is wonderful because dogs are happy just with your simple presence -- and maybe a belly scratch."