UCC set up Teddy Bear Hospital to help reduce children's fear of a visit to the doctor

Conor Fletcher from St John the Baptist National School, Midleton, Co Cork. Picture: Gerard McCarthy

Headaches, sore paws, missing eyes, and torn ears were among the ailments treated at a special hospital that opened in Cork yesterday.

Schoolchildren from five local schools brought their teddy bears to trainee doctors for a health check at the Teddy Bear Hospital, set up by University College Cork’s School of Medicine and Health.

The trainees used medical instruments and followed real-life procedures — similar to what any patient could experience during a visit to their GP or to an emergency department — in examining their furry patients.

And, after an initial consultation, the student doctors worked with the pupils to treat their stuffed pals to ensure they left hospital feeling better.

The annual initiative is part of a community outreach activity that aims to reduce the fear many children have when they visit the doctor — a fear the medical community refers to as “white-coat anxiety”.

The teddy bear hospital is in a clinical setting at UCC’s college of medicine and health, and the procedures used are typical of what children would experience during a visit to their family doctor.

Rudy Keating and Kerrie Porter from St John the Baptist National School, Midleton, Co Cork, wit h Emme Bear and Belle as students from UCC’s School of Medicine reopened UCC’s College of Medicine and Health Teddy Bear Hospital. Picture: Gerard McCarthy
Rudy Keating and Kerrie Porter from St John the Baptist National School, Midleton, Co Cork, wit h Emme Bear and Belle as students from UCC’s School of Medicine reopened UCC’s College of Medicine and Health Teddy Bear Hospital. Picture: Gerard McCarthy

Alexandra Brickley, the educational officer of UCC’s MedSoc, said that during her time in hospitals and GP clinics, she often saw children who were afraid of going to see the doctor because they didn’t know what to expect.

“The aim of the Teddy Bear Hospital is to introduce children to doctors, and healthcare, in a friendly and entertaining environment, so that they will have a better idea of what to expect on their next visit to their GP or hospital, and will be more at ease when visiting the doctor in the future,” she said.

“This positive exposure to healthcare helps to build a strong doctor-patient relationship and gives all of the children involved a fun morning out.

“It is a real privilege to be able to provide this service for the community, and is one of the main reasons I wanted to be involved in the educational aspect of MedSoc.

“It is a very fun morning-out for the school children and medical students alike.”

The Teddy Bear Hospital is run in partnership with Scoil Mhuire Banríon, Mayfield; St John the Baptist NS, in Midleton; Midleton Educate Together NS; St Finbarr’s NS, Cork; and St Catherine’s NS, Bishopstown.

The hospital will be treating patients again today.


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