Therapy Dogs Give Miller School Students a Joyful Break
Tail-wagging visitors highlight Student Wellness Week activities
By Christine Morris
Photograph by Jorge Perez
Dr. Hilit Mechaber, right, finds a new friend as Cristina Garcia, assistant director of career services and wellness, looks on.
As irresistibly adorable dogs jumped happily among groups of squealing, laughing medical students sitting on the floor of the student lounge, second-year student Christine Nunez explained why the Wellness Advisory Council sponsored the Miller School of Medicine’s third annual Student Wellness Week, which was held in December.
“The burnout rate among physicians is extremely high, and it starts as medical students,” she said. “We think it’s important to have a specific week dedicated to different ways to help deal with all the stress and anxiety that come with being a medical student.”
The week also featured a student group, Lifestyle Medicine, offering tips for “quick healthy meals,” a session on mindful eating, massages, and a presentation on stress management, as well as a yoga night and a spin class — both taught by medical students.
The therapy dogs visited campus from the Humane Society of Greater Miami. In another corner of the student lounge, students made holiday cards for patients at Holtz Children’s Hospital at UM/Jackson Memorial Medical Center. The students also served dinner at Camillus House one evening during the week.
Joining Nunez as chairs of Wellness Week were second-year students Kaylie Cullison and Megan Brown. Cullison took a leadership role in Wellness Week because she recognized the stresses of her own experience and wanted to help her fellow students accept and deal with their challenges.
“Wellness, self-care, self-kindness — whatever you want to call it — has become an integral part of who I am as a human being, not just as a medical student, and I am passionate about spreading these tools and resources to other medical students,” Cullison said.