Going into an unfamiliar place and interacting with unfamiliar people can be a scary experience for any young child – even though it is a necessary part of early visits to the doctor. To help children in the community become more accustomed to a medical checkup in a delightfully engaging way, Washington County Community College [WCCC] coordinates a Teddy Bear Clinic every year.
This year’s Teddy Bear Clinic, held on Tuesday, March 26th, brought approximately 50 children into the college to participate in the event. Every child received a teddy bear that became both their newest companion and their charge as they walked it around the Medical Assisting lab to receive a series of common tests from Medical Assisting students.
“The children are the caregiver of their bear and have the opportunity to become familiar with the medical equipment and setting,” explains Cindy Moholland, Medical Assisting Program Director.
Along with enabling the children to become more familiar with doctors and the kinds of treatment they can expect when they themselves need a checkup, the WCCC Teddy Bear Clinic gives Medical Assisting students time with the youngest of their future patients. “The Medical Assisting students gain experience in communicating with children in a healthcare setting,” Moholland elaborates.
In tandem with the experiences gained by the Medical Assisting students, students from the Early Childhood Education [ECE] program provided additional activities for the children and their parents to participate in throughout the event. “It is a valuable hands-on experience for ECE students,” said Linda Levesque, ECE Instructor. “Their responsibility was to plan and lead age-appropriate activities that would engage the children while they waited to go to the clinic in small groups.”
“The Teddy Bear Clinic has become an annual event that the community looks forward to each year,” Moholland summarized. “It is an exciting day on campus and a great opportunity for the Early Childhood Education and Medical Assisting Programs to collaborate.”
Liz Pollock, whose son, Brennen, turned 3 a few days before the clinic, describes the experience as very enjoyable for her child. While she wasn’t able to participate in the clinic with him, he had a lot to share when she picked him up. “He was all smiles,” Pollock said. “He told me about ‘the doctors’ and the teddy bear was brave; he didn’t cry.”
In addition to the clinic being fun, Pollock appreciates its practical value, too. “As a parent, I love that he’s getting these experiences – especially as Brennen has a fear of going to the doctor. Hopefully this will be a good point of reference for him next time he needs to see his doc!”