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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Stressed-out employees? Not at this hospital

Joy Daughtery Dickinson is executive editor of the Hospital Group of publications at AHC Media in Atlanta and long-time editor and writer of Same-Day Surgery. She has won nine national awards from the Specialized Information Publishers Association and the Association of Business Information & Media Companies for her blogging, news writing, and editing. She makes her home in southwest Georgia.

Most people know that animals can relieve stress, and many healthcare employees have witnessed that relief first-hand as therapy dogs have visited their hospitals.

Some hospital leaders have realized this type of program can be taken one step further by bringing dogs to visit their stressed-out employees. Rush University Medical Center in Chicago is bringing in dogs once a month for some stress therapy for its staff members, The Associated Press reports. The dogs at the Pet Pause sessions come from animal therapy groups and the local animal shelter. The visits take place in an entrance hall.

Being true clinicians at heart, the hospital’s nurses now are studying what effect the therapy has on employee stress. Employees are having their blood pressure measured, plus they complete a survey about their stress levels before and after the animal visits.

We’re betting they find a positive effect. Interacting with animals, or even simply watching them, has been reported to increase serotonin levels and lower cortisol levels. And there’s another advantage. At the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which has a similar program for employees with dogs from the local animal shelter, more than a dozen animals have been adopted by employees. A program that offers less stress for employees and homes for pets sounds like a win-win to us. We hope other hospitals will consider this low-cost approach to employee wellness. (To keep up with hospital-related breaking news as it happens, follow us on Twitter @HospitalReport.)