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Teddy bear clinic meant to eliminate kids' fear of doctor's office

Event held at the Guelph Public Library's East Side Branch

Some medical students in the region want to assure kids that a visit to the doctor’s office isn’t as scary as they might make it out to be.

Medical students at McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine in Waterloo took up shop in the Guelph Public Library’s East Side Branch on Saturday.

“We’re basically just trying to get children involved in healthcare, to kind of reduce any fear that they might have about going to the doctor,” said Pascale Tsai, one of the three leads on the clinic, all of whom are second-year medical students.

Students sat at different stations, and kids brought in stuffed animals as props.

The kids worked through routine situations you’d normally encounter at a doctor’s office or in a hospital setting, highlighting x-rays, operating rooms, vaccines, medications and more. And as the kids left, they each received a certificate for participating.

It was quite the learning experience for them.

But it wasn’t just the kids picking things up. The event also works as a learning opportunity for the students.

“A lot of the students here need exposure working with kids, and working with parents as well,” added fellow event lead Emily Zhang. “It’s definitely a really important activity and exposure to have in medical education.”

It’s the third year McMaster medical students have done an event like this, though most events have taken place in Waterloo Region. It’s made for some great memories for kids and students alike.

“Kids, the way you frame everything is just so important,” Zhang said.

“If you frame it as something that is going to be fun, something with plush toys, they’re going to get excited. That’s just how kids are.”

There have been some fun teddy bears over the years, which brought back memories for the students. There was a stingray plush, a Pikachu, a lion, Care Bears, you name it.

“I remember one specific instance, there was a family that came in, it was two young girls,” Zhang recalled. “They dawned the OR gown, did the scrub cap, gloves, everything, and then asked to borrow my stethoscope, and then they took pictures with the stethoscope as a family. 

“It was really cute. You could tell that she was having the best time, which was really impactful.”

The third lead, Sukhdeep Bhangal, recalled a little girl who brought in her own set of doctor’s toys, and got to interact with other kids and the students.

“This was the perfect environment for her.” she said. “She got to interact with other kids, who were also interested in it, and I think she had the best time.”

Zhang added in that sense, it also provides kids an ability to see students in action, and perhaps think about career exploration.

“All the kids are so cute, they’re so enthusiastic about learning,” Tsai said. “It really makes what we’re doing (so enjoyable). It feels really nice to be giving back to the community this way.”


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Mark Pare

About the Author: Mark Pare

Mark is a longtime journalist and broadcaster, who has worked in several Ontario markets.
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