CLUTCHING their teddy bears close to their hearts, over 400 primary school children from across Limerick got to experience a hospital setting in a positive way this week at the University of Limerick.
Using their precious teddy bears as test patients, the pupils from six schools trusted medical students at UL with their ‘lives’ at the third annual teddy bear hospital.
One doctor listened to the heart-beat of ‘Daisy the wolf’, who sustained a minor injury after she was “banged off the wall.” “
She’s a big wolf, so she’ll have big, healthy lungs, won’t she? Can you hear her heart-beat?” asked one student doctor, as he bandaged up the cuddly toy.
Another doctor practised CPR on a teddy called Bart, the same model of the Simpson’s TV character, for a pupil’s benefit, to show how to revive someone.
The aim of the event, which has again been organised by six current Graduate Entry Medical School students with a particular interest in childhood medicine, is to alleviate childhood anxiety about the medical environment, its procedures and the professionals that work within it. “This visit to the Teddy Bear Hospital provides the children with an opportunity to interact with and assist in a range of simulated healthcare settings, while also allowing them to learn about healthy habits, like the importance of eating well and exercise,” explained student Jennifer Schacter.
She said it also alleviates their fears of visiting a doctor.
“Our main goal this year was to expand the number of primary schools we were able to invite to the event. The idea of the event remains the same - primary school students bring their teddy bear which then plays the role of the patient for the day.”
Over 130, 1st and 2nd year medical students took part in the event which saw 10 medical stations set up in the University Arena focusing on activities including: triage; stethoscopes; vital signs & vaccine safety; x-ray; exercise; surgery/gowning; asthma; safety; first aid, ear nose and throat and healthy eating.
UL President, Professor Don Barry, said in just three years the event has already it has grown in terms of attending schools.
“‘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,” said president Barry.
The promotion of a healthy lifestyle and preventative medicine was at the forefront of this educational and fun event. The topics covered included the importance of regular exercise, thorough hand-washing techniques and a healthy diet. It is also hoped that this initiative will strengthen the relationship of UL GEMS and its students and the surrounding community.
The Teddy Bear Hospital, which is the first of its kind for the Limerick region, is the initiative of six current, UL medical school students: Jennifer Schacter, Ann Morris, Gillian O’Donnell, Amrita Sembhi, Giulia Martone and Julia Healy. Among the participating schools were Milford National School, St Michael’s Infant School, and St Munchin’s Girls’ School.