Hospitals and healthcare settings can be a scary and stressful place for many children. The Teddy Bear Hospital is an initiative by the International Federation of Medical Students Associations that aims to engage medical, dental, and nursing students in making visiting medical environments less daunting. The Teddy Bear Hospital charity supports volunteer student-led societies across the UK to deliver fun and educational guided play sessions to children in their local area.
Teddy Bear Hospital Dundee is based in Ninewells Hospital and has been running for more than ten years by successive student volunteers from the University of Dundee’s School of Medicine. By planning, coordinating, and delivering Teddy Bear Hospital activities, the student volunteers practise creating engaging activities and communicating with children, whilst learning how to run a charitable organisation.
Each week between October and March, classes of local infant school pupils (primaries 1 and 2) bring their precious teddies to the Teddy Bear Hospital at Ninewells. The hospital also offers an out-of-hours service for teddy-patients who belong to local Guide and Scout groups.
During their journey through the hospital, teddies and their owners learn about a variety of topics, including Healthy Eating, What a Doctor Uses, “It’s an Emergency!”, Broken Bones, “What’s Inside my Body?”, and Going for Surgery.
The students use fun costumes and props, interactive games, and educational activities to create an enjoyable and approachable simulation of healthcare settings. For example, “What a Doctor Uses” introduces teddies and children to unfamiliar objects tools like stethoscopes and thermometers, so they don’t seem as daunting in real life. The relaxed and entertaining environment allows a safe space for children and medical students to interact, and to address worries about healthcare settings with the backup of fuzzy friends.
The project also provides practical and transferable knowledge for the children to bring to everyday life. From calling for help from a grown-up, to dialling 999, children in the “It’s an Emergency!” activity learn to recognise the people who can help them. A blue-light response summons the teddy bear emergency service crews to save the day.
With the “What’s Inside My Body” and “Healthy Eating” activities, the hospital promotes public health issues in a fun and interactive way. Children learn facts about human bodies and how to help care for themselves, aligning well with primary school curricula. Feedback from schools and youth organisations has always been extremely positive and encouraging, with Teddy Bear Hospital often taking the top spot for the favourite trip of the year.
If you would like to find out more about the Teddy Bear Hospital, please contact us via Facebook page (@TeddyBHDundee) or email us directly with a contact email for your school or group.
Teddy Bear Hospital Dundee
School of Medicine, University of Dundee