Education For Pediatric Patients: No textbook or Classroom Required

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pedidrs.jpgTell children something and they might understand. Show them something and they'll remember it.

In March, MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital did just that. Through two educational events, pediatric patients and their siblings engaged in fun, interactive activities that brought learning to life.

One fish, two fish
"Red fish, blue fish," read one 6-year-old patient. She was among many participating in Read Across America Day hosted by the Pediatric Education and Creative Arts Program at MD Anderson. The annual literacy day celebrates the birthday of Dr. Seuss, inspiring more than 45 million young readers across the nation to pick up a book and read.

At the Children's Cancer Hospital, patients spent the day reading Dr. Seuss books with hospital staff, making Seuss-inspired art projects, performing a "Seussical" play with Theatre Under the Stars,and finishing the day with a Dr. Seuss movie.

Throughout the year, patients have the opportunity to participate in various interactive learning experiences through the hospital's privately accredited school. This spring, students will become young entrepreneurs in the lemonade business, will take a special tour of the Downtown Aquarium as part of their distance learning curriculum and also will engage in their annual "field day."

Doc for the day
Cancer patients undergo lots of tests, procedures and treatments, many of which can be scary for pediatric patients. To help patients better understand and prepare for their treatment, child life specialists at the Children's Cancer Hospital created the Teddy Bear Clinic.

Patients and their siblings became doctors for the day as they put on their kid-sized white coats and got hands-on experience working with 22 departments at MD Anderson.
Each child received a teddy bear, which they took around and provided treatment for at stations representing departments such as:

  • diagnostic imaging areas, including a teddy-bear sized CT scan provided by Royal Philips Electronics,
  • respiratory therapy,
  • nutrition,
  • dentistry, 
  • outpatient pharmacy and anesthesia assessments,
  • speech therapy, language and audiology services,
  • radiation oncology,
  • clinical trials and translational research, and
  • phlebotomy services.
The Teddy Bear Clinic is a fan favorite each year and allows young patients to explore the different services they would normally experience at the hospital. It also provides a way for faculty and staff to interact with patients in a safe environment away from treatment areas.

One favorite station was the Da Vinci robotic surgery simulator that allowed patients to test their skills using this high-tech machine. In addition, Philips provided a teddy bear-sized MRI scanner that demonstrated on screen what happens to patients when they are scanned.

Activities emphasizing play and fun such as the Seuss Day and Teddy Bear Clinic not only educate the young patients, but also support the hospital's goal to let kids be kids, even when undergoing cancer treatment.

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