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From the unfamiliar faces of nurses to the fear of shots, it’s no wonder why so many youngsters kick and scream their way through the doctor’s office.


September 4, 2017

That’s why, three years ago, a group of MedExpress employees and a stuffed teddy bear began visiting daycares, schools, and libraries to educate young children about healthy habits, what it’s like to visit a heathcare professional when they’re sick or hurt, and to serve as a healthy reminder that there is nothing to fear.

Now, with over 200 MedExpress locations in 17 states, this community initiative – aptly named the MedExpress “Teddy Bear Clinic” program after the furry stuffed bear, Sniffle, who tags along to each lesson – has since turned into a national education program that’s reached approximately 40,000 pre-school and kindergarten-aged children in just three years.

Two MedExpress employees standing with kids holding Sniffle the teddy bear

A Helping Paw

MedExpress began offering teddy bear clinics as a way to support the long-term health and well-being of patients and families. The free outreach program provides hands-on opportunities for children to interact with common medical equipment such as stethoscopes and otoscopes, practice basic healthy habits such as hand-washing and sneezing into their elbows, and learn first-hand what doctors, nurses and radiologists do.

Gary Derk, Senior Director for MedExpress and father of two, knows first-hand how difficult it can be to get kids to take pride in their health – and has seen just how much of an impact Teddy Bear Clinics have had on children and parents alike. “We’ve received great feedback from communities, organizations, and parents on the value of the program. Teddy bear clinics are really helping kids to understand basic healthcare treatments and tools and allowing them to become more familiar with people who work in the medical field. We love hearing that we’ve helped children become more confident and less apprehensive about visiting the doctor.”

Meet Sniffle, our furry friend.

Children who attend MedExpress Teddy Bear Clinics are even invited to bring their own stuffed friends with them. And, with the help of Sniffle, our team’s stuffed teddy bear, children can actually become doctors or nurses themselves by taking teddy’s temperature and blood pressure, using a tongue depressor, and performing mock X-rays.

Teddy Bear Takeover

Since the program’s inception, hundreds of MedExpress employees have completed over 1,000 teddy bear clinics at local children’s organizations across the country – and the program continues to grow.

Dina Muttillo, co-owner of The WOW! Factory, an art studio in Morgantown, West Virginia that offers activities for children, has helped bring MedExpress Teddy Bear Clinics to more organizations. “MedExpress Teddy Bear Clinics offer an interactive, educational opportunity for our kids. We’ve been able to adapt the program for our studio by allowing children to paint a ceramic teddy bear afterward − showing the flexibility and adaptability of the program to serve a wide variety of organizations. Teddy bear clinics are really a great way to provide valuable, age-appropriate health information for local families – all while having fun.”

School kids, a MedExpress worker and a teacher on stage standing and sitting around Sniffle

MedExpress is a proud partner of schools and community organizations across the country. If interested in scheduling a MedExpress Teddy Bear Clinic, visit our Outreach Programs page.


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