Taking care of teddy

Medical and dental students from University of Otago took extra special care of some well-loved Dunedinites in May.

Young children from across the city brought their favourite stuffed animals to the 9th annual Teddy Bear Hospital where their health concerns were tended to by volunteer students from the School of Dentistry and the Otago University Medical Students Association.

University of Otago student with young child at the ninth annual Teddy Bear Hospital

Organiser and 3rd year medical student Elise Forman says the students are there to “create a positive experience and memories for the children in a healthcare setting with the doctors and dentists.

“Basically, when you're sick and you're little it can be very overwhelming, anxious, scary coming into see and getting over tests done, and seeing all the doctors.”

MAS got behind the initiative again this year, supplying extra teddies for any children who forgot to bring theirs. 

Bears got dental check ups, x-rays, physical check ups and, where needed, casts during the clinics.

Stuffed kiwi soft toy wearing a MAS t-shirt at the Teddy Bear Hospital

Two teddy bears at the Teddy Bear Hospital one wearing a MAS t-shirt

Fifth year dental student Sandra Mathew, who dressed as the tooth fairy for the occasion says the volunteer students also get something out of it.

“It does help us understand how to build rapport with kids, because it is a whole new training in itself. You know how to be comfortable because children pick up on energies really quickly and if you're nervous, then they're probably going to anticipate that as well.”

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