|Doc. Dana reporting for duty!|
Picture this: You’re ill, lying on your bed and recuperating at home. Through your medicine-induced, half-drowsy state, you hear the familiar footsteps of your child approaching. Lovingly, you carve a weak smile and open your eyes to be greeted by a face clad with surgical mask, bearing a pair of scissors in one hand and a knife in the other, muttering the words “ Don’t worry Daddy…I will cure you…I’ve done this many times”. You spring out of bed, if it’s not for that familiar pair of eyes and the plastic toy scissors and knife, you would have done something far more drastic.
This was the joke I cracked to a group of Daddies when we saw our pre-schooling children, being led through an actual hospital ward by a team of very competent and dedicated hospital staff (actual doctors no less!) in a 90-minute experience of being ‘Doctors for a Day’ at the open house for the spanking new Mt. Elizabeth Novena Hospital (MNH), Singapore’s first purpose-built private sector hospital in over 30 years.
We’ve been to open houses aplenty, but none in a hospital. Bearing the brand name of Mt. Elizabeth, one can expect MNH to provide local and international patients with quality healthcare with state-of-the-art medical facilities but even that did not prepare us for the wonderful immersion programme awaiting our 5-yr old daughter.
|A brilliant initiative from Mt. Elizabeth Novena Hospital|
When we read that MHH was organising a ‘Doctor for a Day’ programme where kids (5-12 years old) can role-play as doctors in settings like the Operating Theatre and the Emergency Room, we signed her up immediately. In what seemed to me is a most ingenious PR campaign, MNH transformed its luxurious ground floor lobby into a colourful carnival venue to welcome families and an entire Level 9 wards into learning stations for 300 aspiring ‘little doctors’ on 27 July 2013!
|Excited to be a Doc for a day!|
The hospital spared no effort in ensuring that ‘Doctor for a Day‘ programme was executed with precision. Each process (from registration, to assignment of name stickers, wrist tags and ‘uniforms’ for the little doctors) ran like clockwork. There were ample personnel deployed to ensure parents (and their kids) are ushered to the right places. Even though the crowd was sizeable, the traffic flow was well-managed without any congestion. There was a sense of pride in ensuring the event was smooth-sailing.
|A round of self-introduction at the Briefing Room…|
Over the next 90 minutes, the eager and impressionable ‘little doctors’ were ushered from ‘ward to ward’ starting from the ‘General Practitioner’ station where they performed GP duties such as temperature taking, measurement of blood pressure, checking of heartbeats and simple bandaging. At the ‘Nursing Room’, they were tasked to care for newborns – from bottle feeding, cleaning the infants to changing soiled diapers (much to their amusement!).
|Bright, colourful signage sets the mood for a fun experience!|
|Eager doctors at the Nursery…|
|It takes 3 doctors to carry 1 precious baby…|
|Overheard from the little docs: Ewwww the diaper is wet – disgusting!|
What impressed us was that at every ‘station’, the medical personnel would patiently explain the intricacies of that particular aspect(s) of a doctor’s life to the children. Everything from colourful signage to props and accessories were carefully thought of and cleverly incorporated into the role-play (e.g. they included wails of a crying infant and a wet baby’s diaper at the nursery for them to change!) . They even had kid-sized surgical scrubs custom-made for the children for this open house! To make the experience even more authentic, they gave the ‘little doctors’ a chance to use a defibrillator on a mannequin at the A&E room!
|At the A&E Room…|
|Dana and Wenyu…|
|Doctors, please put on your surgical mask and surgical gloves…|
|This is how we are going to use the AED on ‘Mr. Smoke-a-lot’…|
Standing at the corridors, we parents could really tell that the children were thoroughly engaged as they thronged excitedly from one ‘station’ to another – smiling, giggling but during the ‘lesson’, they were full-on focused! The entire ‘Doctor for a Day’ experience ended with the awarding of the ‘Graduation’ Certificate and the taking of a Group ‘Graduation’ Photo.
|The Final Station of the Day|
|Congratulations to The Class of 2013!|
|Our proud Medical Graduate!|
|Dana and her ‘doctor’ buddies – Davien, Julian and Xavier!|
We then proceeded to the main lobby where there are complementary activities to enhance and extend their ‘Doctor for a Day’ learning experiences. A day after the event, Dana was still talking about being a doctor and what she had gone through at Mt. Elizabeth Novena Hospital! At bedtime, she picked up a picture book on ‘Anatomy of My Body’ and started browsing intently on her own.
|More hands-on learning at the Lobby!|
|Doc-for-a-day but every parents’ secret wish that it’ll be for a lifetime!|
In this regard, MNH has outdone itself through this ingenious move of opening up the hospital to the community in a manner where it is non-threatening, memorable and unexpectedly fun. I believe they had scored a distinction in their community outreach efforts – they not only left a most favorable impression to all who came but they had successfully ignited a love and curiosity for the healthcare profession among the participants. There is hope yet that one day, perhaps one day, we might just raise a promising young doctor (or nurse) from one of these children!
Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital