Bear with us for check-up

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TODAY’S the day the teddy bears have their check-up!

Hundreds of teddy bears will receive the once-over from student doctors in Sheffield this weekend at the Teddy Bear Hospital.

TEDDY BEARS HOSPITAL   l/r: Student doctors Sarah Taylor, Arpita Chattopadhyay and Hannah Rappaport examine a teddy at the Medical School, Royal Hallamshire Hospital.    21 February 2011

TEDDY BEARS HOSPITAL l/r: Student doctors Sarah Taylor, Arpita Chattopadhyay and Hannah Rappaport examine a teddy at the Medical School, Royal Hallamshire Hospital. 21 February 2011

The Teddy Bear hospital, run by University of Sheffield medical students, is a health promotion project which aims to ease children’s anxieties over doctors and hospitals.

Sarah Taylor, aged 22, in her final year of medical school, said: “The Teddy Bear Hospital aims to reassure children that hospitals aren’t scary places and we aren’t scary people.

“Children are encouraged to bring in their teddy bears and cuddly toys so the trainee doctors can run a series of tests on them, diagnose their ailments and make them feel better.

“The children watch everything that is going on and can ask questions along the way.”

Student doctors will listen to the teddies’ hearts with a stethoscope and look in their ears with a pen light before they have an X-ray and MRI scan before collecting their ‘paw-scription’.

“Our first job is to gain the children’s trust and build a rapport with them,” said student doctor Arpita Chattopadhyay, 22.

“Once they’ve relaxed they’re more intrigued than nervous and want to know all about how the stethoscope works and have lots of questions.”

As well as helping children, the project also helps training doctors gain valuable experience communicating with young patients.

“I’ve taken part in this project for the past five years,” said Arpita, who is considering a career in paediatrics.

“We have 75 student doctors taking part on the day and we’re never short of volunteers.

“We spend our time observing and learning so it’s nice to be fully fledged doctors for the day.”

Last year around 300 children attended the Teddy Bear Hospital and the students are hopeful they’ll see even more this year.

“This project just gets bigger and better,” said student doctor Hannah Rappaport, 23.

“As well as the Teddy Bear Hospital, there’s face painting, skipping and hoola-hoops, jigsaws and colouring. We also give each kid a ‘paw-scription’ goody bag.”

The Teddy Bear Hospital is on Saturday from 10am to 4pm at Weston Park Museum. The event is free.