Benefits all round at Teddy Bear Hospital

Dunedin 4-year-old Theo Stocker's friend gets a clean bill of health at the Teddy Bear Hospital...
Dunedin 4-year-old Theo Stocker's friend gets a clean bill of health at the Teddy Bear Hospital from medical students Phoebe Johnston (left) and Meremaihi Jackson. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
It was billed as the Teddy Bear Hospital, but a diverse community of toys took the chance to receive a checkup at a community clinic at the University of Otago on Saturday.

Monkeys, rabbits, gorillas, a panda and a unicorn were all examined by medical students, and there was no doubt there was more than met the eye when a Transformer toy went through the teddy X-ray machine.

In its eighth year, the free event sees medical and dental students examine the special friends of Dunedin youngsters.

The toys also had their blood pressure, eyes and ears checked, teeth examined, and heartbeat monitored.

As well as giving children reassurance about what would happen when they visited the doctor, the event was also a valuable educational exercise for students, third-year medical student Olivia Brown said.

"It is a chance to practise being with real people and to interact with children," she said.

"A lot of us here today hope to work in paediatrics, and until we get into a clinical setting we don't really get to practise that."

Quite apart from the practical experience, the clinics were also fun for all, Ms Brown said.

"It's really easy to get bogged down in study and get daunted by how far there is to go, and doing something like this reminds you why we are doing what we do."

While the doctors and dentists had swotted up on teddy anatomy for the clinics, sometimes the caregivers of the patients could surprise the physicians, Ms Brown said.

"They will point at a bone and say `this is the sacrum' and you wonder how on earth they knew that.

"They are incredibly smart, and this is so much fun - we love this week."


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