The Auburn University College of Nursing and its Animal-Assisted Therapy program have again garnered the attention of Nurse Educator magazine.
Assistant Professor Morgan Yordy and Associate Clinical Professor William Pope, collaborated with doctoral candidate Leah Kartovicky in the College of Education, to author the article, “Animal-Assisted Therapy Course Utilizing Simulations,” for Nurse Educator, a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal for faculty and administrators in schools of nursing and nurse educators in other settings.
Pope started Auburn’s animal-assisted therapy program in 2010, with only eight students. Part of the class allowed students to visit a nursing home or hospital to gain clinical experience with a therapy dog.
But now with the elective animal-assisted therapy, or AAT, course open to other majors across campus, it fills to capacity every semester. With more students and fewer clinical sites, not every student is able to get a clinical experience.
So Yordy thought to utilize the college’s state-of-the-art simulation lab and create experiences for students to practice visiting patients in hospital and home settings.
“The increase in enrollment meant that students were unable to get the clinical experience needed,” said Pope. “With the development of the simulation, students could get the training without having to leave the college and without having to go to a hospital. We could serve more students by doing that.”
Pope was the only AAT instructor in the college until 2016, when Yordy joined the faculty with experience working with AAT teams.
AAT is a form of complementary medicine used to promote holistic patient healing. Based on the human-animal bond theory, it emphasizes the universal, emotional and mutually beneficial bond that exist between human and animals.
Senior Allie Loehr said she appreciated learning about the benefit of AAT in class and putting in to practice in the simulation.
Maren Stiles said the simulation provided students like herself with “the opportunity to have an experience that we wouldn’t necessarily always be guaranteed at the hospital.”
Jane Newberry said it also added to the nursing curriculum at Auburn, equipping students with a well-rounded education in patient care.
Yordy and Pope had an article published in Nurse Educator in 2019 that focused on their research involving Auburn’s therapy dogs and local residents with dementia.