The Implementation of an AAT Therapy: The Perspective of a Nursing Leader


Nursing and work in the healthcare sphere may be challenging since it directly concerns other people’s safety and well-being. The need to support vulnerable individuals and ensure proper treatment and recovery is an essential part of a nurse’s activities, and interactions within a clinic or a hospital should be able to sustain that need successfully. In the process of a hospital’s work, organizational and managerial practices are at the forefront, used by specific personnel to direct action and lead change in a needed direction by using the talents of the staff efficiently. For nursing, the professional responsible for spearheading change and new programs is the nurse leader. The position is a crucial element in a medical setting because nurses need to continuously adapt to new practices and standards devised in the medical community, and change and improve for the sake of the public well-being. Nursing leaders, therefore, act as a connecting tissue between different types of medical personnel, the old and the new, the needed improvements, and the current conditions.

The present case study discusses the implementation of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) in a supposed hospital. The process includes developing proper strategies, educating the staff, and ensuring the safety of the participants. These goals can be achieved through careful coordination, consideration, and the use of evidence-based practice by the nursing leader (Aasekjær et al., 2016). This paper will focus on the implementation of an AAT therapy and the organization of the three necessary teams from the perspective of a nursing leader to oversee the process and build a sustainable introduction algorithm.

Team 1

The first team is directly responsible for leading policy and work procedures. This team will be required to make their decisions based on the current medical understanding of the animal-assisted therapy programs and the best course of their implementation in the contemporary medical setting. Communication with the external stakeholders will be built to research the current organizational process and policies comprehensively.

Firstly, the group will be required to assess the current hospital climate, the available resources, the conditions of the staff, and the practices in place as of the moment of the assessment. The evaluation will be beneficial for future planning and organizational efforts since it allows the team to form a comprehensive picture of the environment in question (“What is the importance of communication in health care,” 2020). Policies for adopting the program need to be developed following external agents specializing in animal assistance programs, such as the local pet therapy organizers. This would allow them to form a first-hand understanding of the practices involved in the implementation, the possible struggles, and the ways to overcome them.

A nursing leader should be able to articulate and plan all of the above in a correct order to make the job of the first team easier, as well as simplify the organizational process for the future. A specialist in this position should monitor the use of relevant research literature, in particular, credible manuals and journals of the necessary profile. Such activities will contribute to eliminating errors at the planning stage and ensuring the sustainability of the program implementation. A nursing leader is responsible for monitoring the preparations for the introduction process by promoting accountability as one of the principles of productive planning. These measures are adequate in the context of the planned change policy.

Team 2

The second team will be occupied with staff education and documentation associated with the change process. When implementing a new strategy, promoting staff education is an important step since it allows all medical professionals to be properly prepared for specific changes in the work process. Infection control issues, nursing, and physical therapy aspects will all be concerned with this education program, and the roles and responsibilities of nurses involved will be discussed.

Patient safety and satisfaction are the primary driving factors of the hospital, and when implementing the program under consideration, a nursing leader should pay attention to these critical aspects. When dealing with animals, correct procedures are to be followed so that none could be harmed by accident. Therefore, one of the tasks of a nursing leader is to promote a learning environment where not only nurses’ immediate duties are trained but also safety measures are discussed.

Nevertheless, the ultimate goal of staff education is to ensure patient safety since, after implementing the planned program, nurses will operate in an unfamiliar environment and will have to monitor security measures. Contemporary studies on education in the medical sphere and research in relevant fields may be taken into account because evidence-based practices have been continuously shown to yield better results (Chien, 2019). A nursing leader may stimulate clinical expertise and introduce the previous experience as one of the teaching tools, mainly due to an opportunity to make the educational process quicker and more efficient. A specialist in this position needs to be capable of leading the educational change and introducing the necessary basic concepts to the work environment. By directly leading the work of other parts of the hospital, a nursing leader can have a chance to make sure that colleagues are ready for the upcoming changes and aware of the tasks and performance outcomes to demonstrate. This means that preliminary work should be conducted to convey to employees the goals of working in a new environment, productivity requirements, and methods for evaluating effectiveness to count on high performance.

Team 3

The third team will be responsible for directly communicating with the patients and explaining to them the benefits of animal therapy for the successful recovery of patients. Their secondary duty is to communicate with the other departments about any possibility of patient permission documentation release. For communicating with patients effectively, a specific program needs to be followed where the target audience’s well-being and safety are prioritized.

A nursing leader should ensure that the process of provider-patient interaction is open and productive. Firstly, all the relevant knowledge on the benefits of animal therapy needs to be compiled in a quick and assessable manner for patients to be able to review it and understand it. By making education accessible, fast, and easy to understand, medical professionals can guarantee better patient retention. To achieve this, a nursing leader can utilize images and other visual media that can provide a clear and convenient picture of all the conventions and features of the implementation work (Coulter, 2021). Animal therapy needs to be promoted as one of the more successful approaches to promoting effective care, and a responsible employee should be aware of patient needs and problems to prepare the introduction of the program efficiently. As an alternative, a nursing leader can promote a patient-centered approach as one of the key mechanisms for achieving the desired outcomes and ensuring high-performance communication.

A nursing leader can aid in coordinating the efforts of the communication team, finding a proper direction for creating informational materials, and forming successful approaches to building provider-patient relationships. Since the task of the team involves not only educating patients but also evaluating possible documentation on the issuance of permits to participate in the therapy in question, assessing membership conditions is a mandatory procedure. A nurse leader should build relationships with other departments and obtain the necessary data for those patients who need an AAT therapy as soon as possible. This will not only provide timely assistance but will also help plan the intervention program under the criterion of its relevance to individual participants. As a result, the mechanism of implementation will be based on the coordination of preparatory work with the target audience by a nursing leader to obtain justifications and engage patients in need.


Within the framework of the AAT therapy under consideration, the tasks of a nursing leader are crucial due to the need to coordinate the activities of the three teams responsible for researching, training, and interacting. Based on evidence-based practice, a responsible employee can build a work process that will help avoid mistakes and create a favorable environment for intervention. In each of the teams, individual approaches are to be promoted to ensure a sustainable implementation process of the program. The poor preparation for the upcoming work or the biased assessment of patients in need of appropriate therapy may be critical gaps, and a nursing leader should take into account all the potential conventions.


Aasekjær, K., Waehle, H. V., Ciliska, D., Nordtvedt, M. W., & Hjälmhult, E. (2016). Management involvement – A decisive condition when implementing evidence‐based practice. Worldviews on Evidence‐Based Nursing, 13(1), 32-41. Web.

Chien, L.-Y. (2019). Evidence-based practice and nursing research. Journal of Nursing Research, 27(4), e29. Web.

Coulter, A. (2021). How to provide patients with the right information to make informed decisions. The Pharmaceutical Journal. Web.

What is the importance of communication in health care? (2020). Regis College Online. Web.

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NursingBird. (2022) 'The Implementation of an AAT Therapy: The Perspective of a Nursing Leader'. 7 August.


NursingBird. 2022. "The Implementation of an AAT Therapy: The Perspective of a Nursing Leader." August 7, 2022.

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NursingBird. "The Implementation of an AAT Therapy: The Perspective of a Nursing Leader." August 7, 2022.