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Calming Fears About Doctor Visits: Teddy Gets a Checkup

August 17, 2023
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With help from some furry friends, Nursing students gain clinical experiences while easing youngsters’ fears of doctors and nurses and what they do.

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Children are often frightened of doctor visits and hospital stays, but two professors from the Anderson University College of Health Professions and Pediatric Nursing students developed a fun, free clinic to help them conquer their fears.

Alison Peeples and Cindy Swaney, professors of Pediatric Nursing at Anderson University’s School of Nursing, came up with a way to help their nursing students gain clinical experiences while helping youngsters view doctors and nurses and what they do in a different light.

“Our pediatric students do multiple rotations through different clinical areas,” Peeples said. “I told Cindy it would be nice if we could do a Teddy Bear Clinic, which she has been involved with at AnMed.”

On July 21, Peeples, Swaney and their students traveled to Belton Pentecostal Church of God Kids Club, a school enrichment program, and put on a clinic they named Teddy Gets a Checkup. The children interacted with Anderson University students and a big teddy bear on loan from AnMed, who led the kids in exercises and other fun activities. Participants also got a T-shirt and stuffed bears, which AnMed donated.

“A student dressed up in the (bear) costume got involved in lots of activities that went on with the kids. They practiced giving him shots and he was doing CPR with the kids and doing the exercise, stretching with the kids. It was fantastic,” Swaney said. “One of the children walked by us and they told their friend they were with that this was the best day ever.”

Kids Club Director Allison Goff, who is also an Anderson University alumna, says that anywhere from 30 to 60 children usually come to the Kids Club in summer. 

“They absolutely engaged with the university students,” Goff said. “They had different stations set up with the teddy bears. They did CPR on them and checked their pulse. They just got the kids really involved and got them moving and doing hopscotch, just showing them different activities that they could do to keep physically fit. They absolutely loved it.” 

The Nursing students also got a lot out of the experience.

“I am overall very impressed with how the teddy bear clinic went,” said Nursing student Raegan Metcalf. “I went in not knowing what to expect but learned very fast how much kids can learn while also having so much fun.”

“It was a lot of fun and allowed for multiple interactions with pediatric patients,” said Nursing student Alexis Crawford. “While they were not ill, we were able to educate on the importance of the different topics at the clinic in ways that the students will likely remember and be able to go home and share with their parents and/or siblings while using their stuffed animal to show how to properly carry out the procedures/skills.”

“This was one of my favorite clinicals. It was different, fun and super educational for the kids,” said Nursing student Anna Bishop. “I would love to see it grow next year to include firefighters or policemen.”

“It was fun interacting with all the different ages and education levels. Some were extremely knowledgeable, and some had no idea that their heart had blood in it. I was able to ask some of them what their favorite station was (mostly all of them said the exercise!). I enjoyed watching them visit all my classmates’ stations as well,” said Nursing student Sarah Williams.

“Empowering children and allowing them to make their own decisions in a safe manner is one of the most beneficial things we can do for them at this stage in development,” said Nursing student Nicolette Morabito.

“I’m very proud of Prof. Peeples and Prof. Swaney for the incredible work they have done with Teddy Gets a Checkup. This service provides an incredible opportunity to break down a barrier to healthcare and helps children overcome the fear that often exist with children and healthcare.”

“I am thankful for faculty who have a passion for serving their students, communities, and others in this way,” said Dr. Cindy Cross, associate dean of the College of Health Professions and chief nursing administrator. “Teddy Gets a Checkup is a great service-learning opportunity for our students. Nursing students can join and engage in the community directly through service learning, a unique teaching strategy that benefits both the community and the students.”

Peeples and Swaney hope to take Teddy Gets a Checkup on the road.

“Our students go out to all of the schools in Anderson School District 4 to do part of the clinical, to be with the school nurse, so I’ve reached out to the elementary schools to see if they would be interested in us also coming to host the Teddy Gets a Checkup clinic,” Peeples said. “The first school that I talked to was very excited. If that is something all of the elementary schools are interested in, then we can definitely reach out to others and do the same thing one day out of the semester for each group of nursing students we have.”

Nursing students will also be volunteering at AnMed’s next big Teddy Bear Clinic September 30.


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