By Eilís Walsh
On March 11th medical students in the University of Limerick held the fourth annual Teddy Bear Hospital in UL’s Sports Arena. Over 500 Limerick children from seven different primary schools attended the event. Most importantly, they each brought along with them their teddy bears.
The event, organised by seven medical students with a particular focus in childhood medicine has the aim of reducing children’s anxiety while being in a medical environment. These GEMS (Graduate Entry Medical School) students also hope to aid the children in being more comfortable with medical professionals and familiarising them with various medical procedures.
Different topics such as triage; stethoscopes, x-ray; asthma; vital signs & safety; exercise; first aid, ear, nose, throat and healthy eating were explained by 150 1st and 2nd year students. These students also acted as “teddy bear doctors” for the day, spread out at ten medical stations in the arena. The primary school children watched as their teddy bears acted as patients throughout the day.
According to Ann Morris, a medical student the organizers main goal “was to expand the number of primary schools we were able to invite to the event”. She explained that the event enables the children “to interact with and assist in a range of simulated healthcare settings, while also allowing them to learn about healthy habits, like the importance of eating well and exercise”.
The GEMS students were keen to highlight the importance of eating well and preventative medicine, doing so in an engaging and child friendly manner. UL GEMS aims to improve relations with the students and the surrounding community and also hopes to encourage young children to entertain the idea of working in the medical profession.
Other topics covered were teaching the primary school children of the benefits of regular exercise, a healthy diet and useful hand-washing techniques. UL’s president Professor Don Barry described the event as “a magical opportunity for Limerick’s primary school children and a valuable learning experience for all”. He also commented on the building of “an affirmative and substantial link between the university, its students and healthcare provision”
The event itself is growing in popularity with schools all over County Limerick applying to get the chance to attend. The concept and running of the Teddy Bear Hospital at the University of Limerick is the first of its type for the Limerick region.
The talented UL GEMS students involved in this year’s Teddy Bear Hospital are: Giula Martone, Julia Healy, Ann Morris, Caity Patterson, Amy Hannigan, Saskia D’SA and Kristin Delcellier. They were commended for their efforts and congratulated on a successful event.