A canine visitor to The University of Manchester’s medical school is no mutt when it comes to making medical students happy.
Billy the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, higher education’s first dogtor, is taking part in a scheme for medical students to ease their stresses and strains.
Billy, wearing his doggy uniform, visits the medical school twice a month attending specially designated sessions with medical students
The idea compliments published University of Manchester research which finds that pets are good for your mental health.
And it is one of many the University activities designed to enhance the wellbeing of students and staff, culminating in the annual Wellbeing Week.
There are daily mindfulness sessions and workshops dealing with topics as wide ranging as tackling procrastination or tackling perfectionism. Now Billy is part of the mix for medical students.
Claire Mimnagh, who is a Communication Skills Administrator in the Medical school, was the person who thought of the idea.
She said: “Medicine is an intensive course and our students work incredibly hard. So we feel it’s important to make sure our students can find time to relax.
“Billy brings together our dog-loving students. They love his company and after spending a bit of time with him, feel great. You just have to see the smiles on their faces to realise what a hit Billy is.
“Our students love him – and he evidently loves them; his tail just doesn’t stop wagging.”
Billy’s owner is actor Sue Warhurst who works at the Medical School role playing patients to allow students to practice their consultation skills.
Dr Kelly Rushton, one of the researchers on the pet study said: “We know that having contact with pets can provide benefits for people with mental health problems by alleviating feelings of stress and providing comfort.”
“This scheme sounds as though it’s trying to do something along those lines, and I would personally have loved this opportunity when I was a student.”