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MCTC becomes pet therapy volunteer

April 2, 2020

“If your eyes could see what my eyes have seen, you’d understand why I do what I do.”

That simple, yet profound statement is how Dr. Rhonda Sims, a respected, honored nursing professor at Maysville Community and Technical College, explains why she became an animal-assisted therapy volunteer.

“Besides being a nurse educator, this is the most rewarding thing I have ever done,” she says, proudly.

Along with her two therapy-certified border collies, Koda and Molly, Dr. Sims provides free pet therapy services to multiple agencies in the region, including hospitals, schools, nursing homes, hospice, health departments, police agencies, child abuse centers and other facilities.

A dog lover since childhood, she says her interest in using pet therapy stemmed from her memories of six months of painful procedures following an operating room fire during her doctoral studies.

Dr. Sims earned associate degrees in nursing and business at MCTC and then added two bachelor’s degrees at Midway University, two master’s degrees at Walden University and a doctorate in nursing practice, also at Walden. She currently is studying forensic science as an advanced practice clinician.

“I love to learn and I’ve never stopped,” says this 26-year registered nurse who holds nursing licenses in Ohio and Kentucky, including a license in Kentucky to provide forensic nursing. Her licensure in forensic nursing allows her to assist in the handling of child sexual abuse criminal proceedings and in the treatment of victims.

She believes strongly that pet therapy techniques are being used more widely in healthcare because they are shown to enhance physical, emotional and social well-being and to improve self-esteem,

reduce anxiety and facilitate healing.

Dr. Sims seems particularly stirred by the emotional impact of her dogs on individuals facing end-of-life circumstances.

A 20-year faculty member at MCTC, Dr. Sims is a professor of registered nursing in the traditional and online programs. She is based at the Maysville Campus and lives in Maysville with her husband, Thomas.

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