Studying medicine isn't all hard work, you know. I'm currently on a paediatrics (children's medicine) placement which means that there is plenty of excuse for playtime too. When we first got our timetables for this week, what immediately caught my eye was "session with the play specialists, in the ward play room." It was nestled in there between seminars and nursing shifts, but it stood out a mile!
Now I didn't want to get my hopes up straight away. There was still a distinct possibility that this would end up being just a talk on the theory of play as therapy, but the day before the play specialists had passed us on the ward and suggested that we'd be doing something more practical- and that maybe we shouldn't wear our best clothes...
Tuesday morning we arrived at the play room and took a seat at a table covered in newspaper, stacked with scraps of paper and fabic, coloured pens and even a few tubs of glitter and sequins. As a child, mum always encouraged us to be creative so this kind of scene is pretty familiar to me- but perhaps not while at university! They told us they wanted us to make elves, just like they would be getting any of the children to do over the next few weeks too.
We got into small groups and instantly got started fashioning hats and tights and fancy tops for our elves. One group even went for an impressive 3D structured elf. While we worked (played?), the play specialists talked about their role in the hospital, helping children to deal with an unfamiliar environment, coping with any anxieties and generally just trying to make their stay in hospital a little more enjoyable. They had lots of useful tips that we can use as future doctors when it comes to distracting children that need treatments or examinations. They also talked about how they can often be a support for parents who are just as anxious when their child is ill.
Two hours went by very quickly and it was soon time to pack things away- but we made sure to get plenty of photos of our creations! The play specialists also told us they'd be putting them up on their new display- so I'll be looking out for those on the ward!
What do you think?!