Veterinary Students -- and Josh -- Visit Children's Hospital
Editor's note: Volunteers of the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Kristina Netherwood and Brittany Stevens, prepared this review of their recent visit to hospitalized children as part of the Josh Project.
November 21, 2011
On November 10, a group of students from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine visited the UC Davis Children’s Hospital to deliver Josh Project kits to children. Each Josh kit consists of a stuffed golden retriever named Josh and a book called “I’ll be OK” that is designed to keep kids company during long and lonely hospital stays. The book is about a dog named “Josh” that goes to Dr. Rick’s animal hospital for surgery so he can get better. The story is “an adventure in getting well,” that relates the experience Josh has in the veterinary hospital to the same experience the children are going through in the human hospital.
There was also a therapy dog named “Rudy” who came to pay a special visit to the children. He received lots of love from all the children and veterinary students. Part of the session also included looking at veterinary radiographs that showed, for example, a dog pregnant with puppies and a bird with a broken leg. Vet student volunteers also helped the kids 'take their Josh dogs to the vet' by playing with lots of medical supplies that the [hospital's] Child Life staff provided for them such as bandages, ECG leads, face masks, etc. It was a great experience for the children to ‘play doctor’ for their special Josh dog.
The main focus of the Josh Project is helping children who are in the hospital and often very frightened by the experience. For a child, the frightening experience of going to the hospital may be eased by a visit from a friend – especially one that wags his tail. Through the Josh Project, the human-animal bond is emphasized in such a unique and uplifting way while also promoting the value of pets in our lives. Many of the children spoke fondly about their animal companions at home.
How can you get involved in such an amazing experience? There are many ways to get involved and you can make a difference! You can help the Josh project by placing a Josh Project poster and collection box in your office or at your business's cash register. The students have donation materials available that they would be happy to provide. You can also go online and donate directly to the UC Davis Josh Project through our secure online Paypal account: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/clubs/scavma/josh_project.html. Also, look for our Josh Project booth at the Davis Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings and at the UC Davis Picnic Day.
The Josh Project is a national effort by veterinarians and veterinary students. "The Josh and Friends program illustrates the importance and strength of the human-animal bond that veterinarians see every day," said Beth Monte, Georgia Veterinary Medical Association executive director, in a recent article. "One person, with minimal effort, can make a huge difference. Simply putting a poster and a Josh kit in your reception area will generate donations from your clients as well as promoting a positive image for you. When you and your staff see a Josh puppy in the hands of an ill child and a smile of relief on a parent's face, you immediately see the win-win-win situation."
The UC Davis veterinary student group hopes to arrange one event per quarter next year, and volunteers are already looking for ways to raise money for more "Josh kits" to deliver comfort to young patients.
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Learn more about the Josh Project at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
Brittany Stevens, Class of 2013 Josh Project Coordinator
Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association