Tammy Schmit knew her team in Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine needed a boost. They were short staffed, which meant everyone was doing more work. People were taking on extra shifts and working overtime — all while missing their colleagues who had moved on, implementing a new software system, and giving 40,000 shots a year. (Ouch.) Stress was high. Morale was low. And Schmit wasn't sure how to turn things around.
Then she heard Mayo leaders talk about the importance of finding joy at work. That three-letter word made Schmit think of a four-letter word: dogs. Specifically, Mayo Clinic's Caring Canines. Schmit had seen the therapy dogs do great things for patients and suspected they'd have a similar impact on her staff. So she invited the furry healers to spend time on the third floor of the Baldwin Building. "I just wanted to find something that would bring a little brightness to someone's day," Schmit says.
Mission accomplished. Maggie, Lilly and Strudel have been bringing their unique brand of cheer to the unit every Wednesday afternoon for the past six months. "The impact the dogs have had is immense," Kaitlyn Maidl tells us. "They are a bright spot on our unit and we all look forward to them coming. They help us relax. Everyone gets excited when it's doggy day." Maidl, a licensed practical nurse on the unit, says the dogs "have an amazing sense of people's emotions and know who needs some time with them."
She experienced that firsthand not long ago. "A family member of mine was having surgery on one of the days the pups came," Maidl says. "I was stressed. When Maggie came in, it was like she knew I needed some puppy love. She sat with me and snuggled."
Schmit has seen the dogs offer similar comfort to patients on the unit, including a young boy with autism who stopped to pet Lilly after an appointment. "Lilly laid down and the little boy laid down next to her," Schmit says. "The patients love the dogs as much as our staff do."
Schmit tells us that Maggie, Lilly and Strudel "have helped bring a little joy back to our unit." They've been such good dogs that she's even invited them to come a second day each week. "This was a very simple thing that has had a very big impact," Schmit says. "We have animal lovers on staff. Seeing the dogs gives them a chance to recharge. Our staff work so hard. This is a small way we can help them so they can help children."
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