Teddy bear clinic draws kids

Well over 100 children took their favourite stuffed toys out of their bedrooms and into St. Matthew’s University for a basic medical check at the Teddy Bear Clinic last Saturday morning.

Little Lenny and doctors

Medical students Jaya Nair and John Shand lend two-and-a-half-year-old Lenny Roar Ebanks an otoscope to check out cats ears watched by his father Aston and mother Tanja (not in picture), herself a doctor. Photo: Elphina Magona

Organised by college’s chapter of the American Medical Students Association, boo-boos and sore paws were attended to and youngsters were given certificates of participation.

Most of the toys left with a Band Aid or splints; all got prescriptions for plenty of TLC.

Designed to promote healthy eating and help make visits to the doctors less daunting for youngsters, who associate white coats with jabs; each much-loved bear, dinosaur and doll got a comprehensive health screening.

For most attendees the exercise worked and several children, who had initially been nervous, were soon chatting with the friendly ‘doctors-in-waiting.’ A spin-off was that the med students got ample opportunity to perfect their bedside manner.

‘We got the idea from similar sessions run by other AMSA chapters,’ said Aften Baker, the project’s organiser. ‘We are very encouraged by the feedback we’ve received from the parents and only wish we’d had an even bigger turnout.’

The chapter’s President, Paul Spechler, said the clinic may well be repeated.

‘Our chapter will seriously consider running another Teddy Bear Clinic at some point in the futureā€¦ It’s a great way of connecting with the wider community while learning how to interact with ‘clients’. ‘

The clinic was all the more commendable given the stressful round of examinations the students had finished only last Wednesday. Thursday and Friday were spent preparing for the exercise and a large chunk of Saturday morning was devoted to the project.

Brent and Teena Kukkee were among the many parents accompanying their toddlers and preschoolers. Their three-year-old twins Emerson and Pyatt and 16-month-old Logan clearly enjoyed the session.

All participants were treated to a range of healthy post-examination snacks.

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