Nursing Major Making a Difference in the Community

Students at St. Vincent de Paul School enjoy some time with Tilly, a service dog in training, brought to the school by Jenny Lapke a senior nursing major in Dr. Kelly Schwend's community clinical.

September 18, 2013

Jenny Lapke, a senior nursing major at Bradley University is not only learning to be a nurse, she is changing lives.  Some of the lives have four legs.  Jenny volunteers with an organization, Paws Giving Independence, on campus that rescues dogs from shelters and trains them to be service animals.  Currently, Jenny is working with Tilly is a 15-month-old Australian Shepherd-Poodle mix, also known as an Aussie Doodle. Tilly was rescued from a puppy mill when she was 5 months old, causing her to be very anxious around new people and objects. Tilly goes almost everywhere with her foster mom, Jenny. Tilly attends all of Jenny’s classes and is going to a nursing clinical for the first time this semester.

Tilly and Jenny are going to St. Vincent de Paul School in Peoria, IL for a community health clinical. Dr. Kelly Schwend, Assistant Professor of Nursing and the instructor for Jenny’s community clinical was instrumental in facilitating Tilly’s presence in clinical setting.  This novel approach allows Jenny to implement pet therapy and provide a welcome distraction for children when they are sick or injured. Being in the school will also help Tilly get more exposure to children, which is essential for her future job as a service dog.

After only one day at St. Vincent de Paul School, the students were buzzing about Tilly. She provided a distraction for a girl who had been hurt while in PE. She also provided a calming presence for a student with a bloody nose. Jenny and Tilly will be teaching several classes about dog safety to the children. These classes will teach the children how to approach a dog, how to interact with a dog, and what dogs have to do in order to be healthy. The kids will also be taught what it means for Tilly to be a service dog.