ECPI University Nursing Student gets a Paw Up From Service Dog

ECPI University Nursing Student gets a Paw Up From Service Dog

As a bachelor to BSN nursing student, Antonia De los Santos interacts with all kinds of medical technology. Yet, modern medicine has yet to create a device that can match the effectiveness of her own therapy dog, Oz.

Diagnosed with diabetes at the age of eight, Antonia spent years struggling to keep her glucose levels in check. If she’s not careful, she can quickly find herself in the midst of a hypoglycemic episode. When she was college freshman, an especially severe incident left her mother desperate to find Antonia a better solution.

“We did a lot of research on diabetic alert dogs and their training and I was lucky enough to be matched up with Oz.” says Antonia. “Oz has allowed me to keep my young adult freedom, and be secure in my new environment. Now, I can’t imagine life without him.”

Oz is trained to detect changes in Antonia’s glucose – for both hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic episodes. He is approximately 15 minutes faster than a glucose meter in detecting changes. “When he alerts me, he will either bark, or lick the palms of my hands,” she says. “With his assistance, I am able to keep my hemoglobin A1C in top control. I have the freedom to participate in sports, live the crazy nursing life schedule, and travel without fear of undetected severe glucose changes.

“My classmates love having Oz around. I think he serves as a therapy dog for the majority of the students on bad days! He knows test days mean business, but he can always look forward to a hug afterwards. He loves coming to school, more than anywhere else. He participates in theme days, but knows how to keep it professional and focused. I know he makes a positive impact in the lives of my classmates, as much as he does mine. That makes us both feel good.”

Oz provides Antonia the confidence to undertake ECPI University’s Bachelor to BSN, a one-year program that allows students who already have a Bachelor’s degree to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. “In my previous life, I worked as an emergency medical technician,” she says. “I would bring people to the hospital, and I watched the nurses deliver the care I wish I could provide. So, I decided I could be that person I looked up to, and my dreams were set.

“I am so happy that I chose ECPI University. I love the small class size and dedication of staff to the students. I feel as though every professor and staff member is rooting for my success. They are there every step of the way for help. I don’t think I would have the same experience at a different university. The high NCLEX pass rate is a nice plus as well!”