Written by: Jennifer Ji, MD/PhD Student

Dr. Bear Visit - Learning Through the Visual Arts

Jennifer Ji is a MD/PhD student in Dr. David Huntsman’s lab. In her free time, she enjoys visual art and hopes to apply her skills towards contributing to meaningful causes. She is passionate about both traditional medium and computer graphics and design.

For the past 5 years, Jennifer has been an illustrator for the Reading Bear Society (RBS), a not-for-profit initiative that promotes early literacy and healthy living in children through intergenerational mentorship, founded with the help of UBC medical graduates Dr. Isabel Chen (MD’15), Dr. Christine Wang (MD’16), and Dr. Kay Fung (MD’16). To accomplish its mission, the RBS uses teddy bears to connect with children. Whether children are reading to their teddy bear at night, practising bear breathing or bringing their bear to the doctor for comfort, teddy bears can uniquely help them in their journey of learning and growth.

A visit to Dr. Bear by The Reading Bear Society, 2020. An interactive children’s book written by UBC’s medical graduate Dr. Amy Plessis. Revised by UBC medical student Bhavan Panghali, and graduates Dr. Paul Abraham and Dr. Cheryl Gascoyne, and reviewed by Dr. Joanne Roussy, Dr. Janet Greenman, Dr. Christine Wang, and Dr. Lynn Miller. Developed as part of a faculty-supervised FLEX project. Illustrated by UBC MD/PhD student Jennifer Ji

Her most recent project includes illustrating a children’s book titled “A visit to Dr. Bear,” an interactive book written and designed by UBC medical students and faculty.

Her most recent project includes illustrating a children’s book titled “A visit to Dr. Bear,” an interactive book written and designed by UBC medical students and faculty. The book and workbook are used by medical students and volunteers during one-hour elementary school visits. Each visit begins with an interactive story, which introduces children to common reasons for visiting the doctor. Throughout the story, medical students use teddy bears to demonstrate procedures that children might experience at a doctor’s office, such as a checkup, a vaccination, or an X-ray. The story involves various bear species to emphasize the importance of cultural diversity.

The “Visit to Dr. Bear” book introduces children to a visit to the family doctor and teaches children important self-care skills such as mindful breathing and handwashing.

After story time, the children rotate through stations in which they practice procedures on stuffed animals with toy instruments, work on proper hand washing technique, perform mindful bear breathing, and listen to their own heartbeat with a real stethoscope. The materials/resources for parents are in part developed by FLEX medical students in collaboration with the team of RBS FLEX committee and advisory board. The book will be adapted online this upcoming year so children may continue to receive the visits.

A medical student volunteer leads a “visit by Dr. Bear” session. Please visit www.thereadingbear.ca if you wish to volunteer

The purpose of A visit to Dr. Bear is

  • Introduce pediatric procedures and equipment in a child-friendly environment
  • Encourage cultural sensitivity with the use of various bear species
  • Demonstration proper handwashing
  • Review the rationale for immunizations
  • Encourage emotional intelligence
  • Reinforce healthy habits involving diet, exercise, sleep, and reading
  • Provide evidenced-based resources for parents

These visits are best suited for groups of children from preschool to grade 1. If you would like your class to participate in this program, or you wish to volunteer with the Reading Bear Society, please visit www.thereadingbear.ca.