Lily and Elise Forman checking Teddy’s heart.
The Teddy Bear Hospital had a welcome return this year.
Organised by Otago Medical School students, the event also involved dentistry, pharmacy, physiotherapy, and nursing students.
The philosophy behind the venture is creating a positive medical experience for young children so that some of the anxiety, fear and confusion experienced when visiting the doctor or dentist can be minimised.
Elise Forman, one of the key organisers and a third-year medical student said: “This really has been an incredible experience. Being able to interact with so many children in a way that equally benefits both them and the students really warms my heart.
“Medical students don't really get to interact with patients until our later years of study, so this was particularly valuable, especially in regard to a paediatric setting. On the flipside, it was such a good feeling seeing the children really open up and become more confident in interacting with this mock healthcare setting and to look after their teddy bears with genuine medical equipment and examinations. What really surprised me is how clued up they are. For example, they know what the different medical equipment is for. We are hearing about a lot of experiences with the healthcare system.”
There’s no need for Teddy to look so concerned with the x-ray results.
This was the ninth year of the event, after being cancelled last year due to COVID-19. It started with a week of clinics for early childcare centres and one kura. Students from both the medical and dental schools hosted over 600 children and teddies.
Big and fun community events were held on Saturday 15 May in North Dunedin at The Hunter Centre and, for the first time ever, a concurrent event in South Dunedin at the Carisbrook School Hall.
The organisers pulled together an incredible experience for our community. There were teddy bear doctor and dentist consultations at both events. In North Dunedin physiotherapy students ran an obstacle course, nurses gave injections, pharmacists filled fruit prescriptions, and radiologists provided teddy x-rays. A bouncy castle, face painting and ambulance tours from St. John volunteers added to the fun. In South Dunedin there were free books from the Read Share Grow project, and Plunket and Sport Otago ran activities alongside medical, dental, nursing and physiotherapy students.
Teddy at the Dentist.
Meghan Templeton, another organiser and second-year medical student says: “It’s been so fun. It was great to get to know some of the kids and there have been lots of bubbles. It’s been a few months of planning so it’s great to see it all coming together.
“We’ve had amazing support, including from the Medical Assurance Society, Mercy Hospital and the University of Otago. providing equipment and other support.”
Lily and close friend Teddy visited the Teddy Bear Hospital clinic. Teddy received a thorough health check, including an x-ray. Lily and the tooth fairy accompanied Teddy on a visit to the dentist.
Lily’s mum said it was a great experience. “Lily really enjoyed herself and was fascinated by the different procedures. I can see how this will make her more at ease with medical procedures. She seemed very confident in her abilities as a dentist, which may be due to her recent emergency visit after an encounter with a ranch slider door.”