Engaging horses in teaching medical students humanity

160715 TIME magazine ... animals

From Time Magazine’s “Can a Horse Teach Bedside Manner?”

I’d never burst into a horse’s stall like that … .*

Neurosurgeon Allan Hamilton was rounding with a group of residents when without notice they burst into a patient’s exam room and scared the woman lying on the exam table.

I became aware that I was more sensitive about my body language with horses than I was with patients.

Since that time, with that experience haunting him, at the University of Arizona School of Medicine Dr. Hamilton has developed and teaches a course in which students interact with horses in order to bring humanity back into healing and improve students’ bedside manner.

Now this may sound ‘paradoxical’, however Hamilton has found that horses’ innate sensitivity to human touch, sounds and actions make them ideal ‘patients’ for his medical students.

You come to understand that your body language needs to telegraph what you’re doing to your human patients.


* READ MORE: TIME Magazine: Animals & Your Health … The Power of Pets to Heal Our Pain, Help Us Cope, and Improve Our Well-Being


This is another innovation in the area of the human-animal healing connection and when done so with both heart and mind (caring) so very important as we continue to seek more optimal pathways to improve the health of our patients, families, and communities.



Author note: It is essential that the optimal health of the animals involved in any and all animal-assisted therapy and animal engagement programs within healthcare is never compromised. We do not have a good track record in caring for our doctors and nurses and others within the healthcare system and as the VA has seen the welfare of therapy animals has also been placed in jeopardy.

We must be ever vigilante and ensure we NEVER do harm as we seek to heal.


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