The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people around the world but has had an especially profound effect on medical students. Many students have suffered from drastic changes to their academic curriculum, including withdrawal from in-person patient encounters. Additionally, medical students were expected to remain in-state and discouraged from traveling to see friends or family due to the unpredictable nature of when they would be allowed to return. While staying home and social distancing throughout the pandemic, many students relied on their pets’ emotional support and companionship to lessen the burden of isolation and quarantine fatigue. The objective of our wellness initiative was to use pets to improve mental wellbeing. Our aim was to share the joy and happiness of pet ownership during a time filled with stress and uncertainty, in hopes of boosting moral. We hosted weekly virtual meetings to safely connect and socialize with others in a fun and uplifting environment; we spent our time sharing funny stories and showing off our four-legged friends. As a final project, we compiled a video of our class’ furry companions that included photos of our classmates’ pets, their names, and their favorite things to do. Almost half of our classmates sent in submissions for our video. Based on the positive feedback we received, we believe future medical school wellness initiatives should incorporate students’ pets into the curriculum to further increase student enthusiasm and engagement for wellness activities.
Osmani, Sabah; Justine Yang; Ali Salehpoor; Aakriti Mishra; Carly Wujek; and Mary Bartlett. "Pets against Pandemics: A Medical Student-Led Wellness Initiative During COVID-19." (2021). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/hsc_ed_day/91