Meet Billy the King Charles Spaniel helping medical students to de-stress

What’s the best treatment for stress?

A holistic detox from the tech world? A soothing massage? Or how about a lick on the face, yelp in the ear and invitation to rub your doctor’s belly?

No, this isn’t another one of those weird wellness fads. This is Billy, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that is tackling students’ stress levels one tail wag at a time. To support the University of Manchester’s drive to enhance student wellbeing, Billy has been introduced as the University’s first Dogtor, visiting medical students twice a month to help aid their ailments.  

Claire Mimnagh, who is a Communication Skills Administrator in the Medical school, was the person who thought of the idea.

“Medicine is an intensive course and our students work incredibly hard. So, we feel it’s important to make sure our students can find time to relax," she explained.

"Billy brings together our dog-loving students. They love his company and after spending a bit of time with him, feel great. You just have to see the smiles on their faces to realise what a hit Billy is."

...pets are good for your mental health

2018 3 20 The University Of Manchester Dogtor Billy
The University of Manchester's 'Dogtor'

Whilst sceptics may be tempted to write-off the doggy Doctor as another 'milennial' trend like office slides and ping-pong tables, Billy's sessions with students are scientifically-backed. Recently published University of Manchester research found that pets are good for your mental health. The study of seventeen research papers concluded that pets help people manage long-term mental health problems, offering non-judgmental companionship as well as a positive distraction.

Dr Kelly Rushton, one of the researchers on the pet study said: “We know that having contact with pets can provide benefits for people with mental health problems by alleviating feelings of stress and providing comfort.”

“This scheme sounds as though it’s trying to do something along those lines, and I would personally have loved this opportunity when I was a student.”

Unlike typical student-and-GP encounters, Billy will not scrutinise your sex life or sign you up to a binge-drinking workshop... The mutt’s main mission is to relieve student’s stress levels. Students are invited to spend time with the pup to help them relax alongside their studies. And Billy’s irresistible canine charm having an instant effect.  

“Our students love him - and he evidently loves them, his tail just doesn’t stop wagging.”

Billy supports medical students at the University of Manchester alongside his owner, actor Sue Warhurst, who works at the Medical School role playing patients to allow students to practice their consultation skills.

University of Manchester

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