Teddy bears due for their checkups

Medical students (from left) Natalie Olds (19), of Wellington, Pratistha Dhakal (22) and Selena...
Medical students (from left) Natalie Olds (19), of Wellington, Pratistha Dhakal (22) and Selena Metherell (20), both of Christchurch, run checks on their cuddly friends ahead of the Teddy Bear Hospital community day on May 31. Photo by Linda Robertson.

If you go down to the hospital later this month, you're sure of a big surprise.

The annual Teddy Bear Hospital will be open for children to bring in their cuddly friends, so they can see what happens during a visit to the doctor.

Teddy Bear Hospital committee member Selena Metherell said about 130 second- and third-year medical students would be available on May 31 to act as teddy doctors.

The event aims to ease any anxiety children may have around doctors and hospitals, as well as allow medical students to gain practical experience in interacting with preschoolers.

Miss Metherell said although it certainly would not be a picnic, it would be fun.

''We don't have a chance to have real patients until we reach our clinical years, so this is an opportunity to be in a situation where we can use the skills we have been learning.

''It's not so much about fixing teddies; it's more like a role-play.

''It's about the idea of going to the doctor, pretending to look at the heart of the teddy by using a stethoscope, or putting a Band-Aid on it to make it feel better.

''It's really, really helpful for the kids, especially those who are scared of the doctor.''

Miss Metherell said about 250 kindergarten children were expected to bring ''sick'' teddy bears to special clinics for preschoolers on May 28-30 and the service had been opened to children from the general public on May 31.

''We don't want families to miss out.''

Miss Metherell advised parents to book appointment times on: www.facebook.com/teddybearhospitaldunedin.

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