Kids grin and bear it to overcome hospital fears

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

A VISIT to hospital can knock the stuffing out of the bravest souls but medical students at the University of Limerick have designed an initiative for children to overcome their fear of doctors – by bringing their teddy bears in for a check-up.

A VISIT to hospital can knock the stuffing out of the bravest souls but medical students at the University of Limerick have designed an initiative for children to overcome their fear of doctors – by bringing their teddy bears in for a check-up.

Hundreds of children from Limerick schools and over 70 students took part in the Teddy Bear Hospital event, which saw 10 medical stations set up at UL Arena, taking the children through triage, first aid, X-ray, surgery, gowning and other areas of medicine and health promotion, including the importance of exercise and a balanced diet.

The teddy bear hospital is the brainchild of five UL students with a particular interest in childhood medicine. Showing their cuddly side were Kira Gullane, Jennifer Johnson, Lukas Kieswetter, Niamh Rafter and Melissa Shack.

“The UL Teddy Bear Hospital is designed to be an interactive initiative that allows children to experience the atmosphere of a healthcare encounter without being a patient themselves,” explained Ms Gullane.

“Primary school students aged four to seven bring their teddy bear, which then plays the role of the patient for the day. This visit to the Teddy Bear Hospital provides the children with an opportunity to interact with and assist in a range of simulated healthcare, while also providing them with an opportunity to ask any questions with respect to healthcare that may concern them in a friendly and fun environment.”

UL president, Professor Don Barry, said: “this is the first time that UL has run this event. Bearing in mind the fact that the Graduate Entry Medical School was only recently established and that its students are undertaking a highly intensive medical education programme, it is remarkable that this type of initiative has developed so early in the school’s history. It is a testament to the type of student that the Medical School at the University of Limerick attracts.”