Veterinary students dedicate much of their time, energy and efforts to learning how to make animals well. This month, it was the animals who helped contribute to student wellness through a Stress Free Puppy Zone event; an opportunity for students to take a break from their studies and cuddle with a puppy (or two) before their next class. The event was sponsored by RUSVM’s Student Wellness & Experience Committee, RUSVM Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SCAVMA), and Saving Animals from Emergency on St. Kitts (SAFE).
One of RUSVM’s newest student organizations, the RUSVM’s Student Wellness & Experience Committees (SWC & SEC) is committed to improving the student experience on campus by promoting initiatives and activities to improve student mental health, wellness, and unity. The committee has established a working relationship with the RUSVM Counseling Center and Student Success Center to collaborate on wellness events and ideas.
For SWC Liaison Ms. Kasie Richey, student wellness is more than an activity, it’s a passion.
“We were not put on this earth to undertake life alone. We can lean on one another and should not be afraid to admit that we are scared, or that we failed an exam and need some extra help, or that we struggle with anxieties and stressors that are completely unrelated to veterinary school altogether.”
SWC campus activities have included #5DaysofHappiness, Leadership and Wellness Week, hosting High Performance Living and Mental Health Awareness Week. The committee is working on launching an upcoming cultural diversity celebration, as well as holding two more Stress Free Puppy Zone events.
Ms. Richey cites fall semester’s Professor Lecture Series "One thing I know for sure...” as a highlight of the group’s efforts. The series, which featured inspiring stories by 12 RUSVM faculty and staff, helped to humanize RUSVM professors, revealing that they too, experienced some of the same fears, doubts and struggles as veterinary students.
“The lecture series helped bridge the gap between professors and students, making it known that they really did sit in our seats and endured the grueling curriculum that we are currently experiencing. It allowed students to see that our professors are not immortal, and that they are approachable and really do care about us,” said Ms. Richey.
The RUSVM SWC is working on a proposal to establish the Student Wellness Liaison position on a national level with the Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA).
“What we are accomplishing as the SWC is about each individual that plays a role within the entire veterinary community; students, faculty, staff and mentors. Wellness in the veterinary community is topic of high priority, so it is imperative that we keep striving to better ourselves and our profession,” said Ms. Richey.