PREP students at St Cuthbert’s Catholic School in Lindisfarne put their teddy bears through their paces recently when they were visited by local medical students as part of the University of Tasmania’s (UTAS) Teddy Bear Hospital program.
As part of the program, third-year UTAS medicine students set up a number of different medical experiences for the children including Teddy GP, Teddy surgery, Teddy handwashing, Teddy x-ray, Teddy emergency and Teddy exercise.
The Teddy Bear Hospital initiative was started at UTAS’s School of Medicine in 2013 and is aimed at familiarising young children with hospitals and medical treatment.
“I think it is a great way for the prep students to not only learn more about medicine, but also to help alleviate any fears around things such as going to the GP or the hospital and other medical procedures,” St Cuthbert’s prep teacher Stephanie Cripps said.
“It’s very beneficial for children to have an active interest in their own health and wellbeing.
“Children learn through play and this program was a wonderful hands-on experience for the children to not only learn more about it, but also enjoy getting to know different doctors and other people they may come across in their community.”
Mrs Cripps said the students “absolutely loved” being a part of the school’s first-time participation in the program.
“I asked them what their favourite part was and some of them drew pictures of the different things they did – they were talking about it for a long time afterwards,” she said.
“We might have to make our own Teddy Bear Hospital in our classroom to keep the interest going.”
Third-year medical student Aleksander Wejman said the program was continuously expanding into more Tasmanian schools and had benefits for all students involved.
“The program provides a fun and non-threatening environment for children to learn more about medical encounters, while at the same time helping medical students to develop communication skills in the paediatric setting,” he said.
The Teddy Bear Hospital concept was founded by the International Federation of Medical Students Associations, and the UTAS program is modelled on existing programs run in Australia and overseas.
Caption: Third year University of Tasmania medicine students demonstrate medical procedures to prep children at St Cuthbert’s Catholic School as part of the Teddy Bear Hospital program. Photo credit: St Cuthbert’s Catholic School.