Medicine students from the Rural Clinical School of Western Australia have been holding “Teddy Bears’ Hospital” clinics in primary schools throughout Port Hedland so pre-schoolers can bring in their teddies for pretend surgeries.
Medical student Kyria Laird said the idea is to familiarise young children with doctors and medical equipment so they feel safe when visiting a clinic.
“They start off in the waiting room with activities about healthy eating,” she said.
“Then they see the doctor, and we’ve got a lot of the same equipment here that they’ll see at a normal doctor’s surgery.”
This seemingly simple idea, developed by the fifth-year students as part of the community project they undertake during their rural training year in Port Hedland, has been a huge success, according to Laird.
They have visited all pre-primary classes at the Port Hedland and South Hedland primary schools, and found the children – and teddy bear patients – very receptive to the mock check-up.
At the clinics, children had to assemble a teddy skeleton on paper, visit the doctor for teddy to be assessed and receive prescription medication to help teddy get better.
Students were able to handle a stethoscope and listen to their hearts, as well as use an otoscope to look into ears and pen-torches to examine eyes.
“It’s lovely to see their faces light-up when they can hear their own heart,” Laird said.
Pre-primary student Mia took her teddy to see student Mariana Dorkham at the mock nurses’ station and said that her teddy got better when he received a bandage and medicine for his sore arm.
“It’s bananas and strawberries and apples,” she said in approval.
Port Hedland pre-primary teacher Kiera Tate was among several teachers who raved about the clinics.
“I was very impressed with how the medical students spoke to the children, how clearly they explained everything that was happening and how fun it was,” Tate said.
“They had great bedside manner.”