Many kids engage with imaginative play with stuffed animals. Thanks to Little Medical School, children can take their play to the next level and even learn medical tips that can pave the path to a medical career.
Founded in 2010 and based in St. Louis, MO, Little Medical School seeks to make healthcare education accessible and enjoyable for all children through its toys and programs. Its courses are available as after-school programs, summer camps, in-school field trips and birthday parties. Meanwhile, products include books, activity sets and tools that outline basic medical care for animals and humans alike.
Among its popular products is a working stethoscope – available in four colors – that comes on its own as well as with all of the veterinarian kits. Upcoming items include a new line called Vetopia, expected to launch in Q4 2023. The packaging converts from a carrying case for a plush toy to a field assignment play mat. “These care kits teach kids how to care for animals all around the world,” said Chief Operations Manager Jennifer Griffard. “Veterinarians aren’t just for dogs and cats, but for all animals.”
In a recent interview, Griffard discussed her experience with Little Medical School and how it’s transforming children’s play one toy at a time.
How did you hear about Little Medical School and what drew you to it?
I was working for a company that was underwriting the Little Medical School program and fell in love with it. I have grown up around medicine, with my dad and brother being doctors, and I worked in the healthcare field for years. My passion for teaching and love of healthcare drew me to Little Medical School and I have been blessed to help grow and expand the company over the last 10 years.
You, along with founder Dr. Mary Mason, have a background in healthcare. How has your past medical experience helped you succeed at this company?
With a deep understanding of the medical field, we’ve been able to create an engaging STEM-based curriculum and retail products that are both informative and inspiring. Our experience has directly contributed to the development of new programs and products while our understanding of healthcare has guided the improvement of our existing programs and products. By incorporating real-world medical knowledge into our curriculum, we better equip our students for their potential future in the healthcare industry.
What makes Little Medical School toys ideal for kids engaging in role-play?
Little Medical School toys are a perfect companion for children engaging in role-play due to several key features including their realistic design, educational focus and composition of safe and durable materials. Additionally, our toys promote interactive play, helping children improve their communication skills and learn to work collaboratively. In essence, Little Medical School toys provide a fun, safe and educational platform for children to engage in role-play, cultivating both their minds and their hearts.
How does role-playing as a healthcare provider set up kids for success if they later choose to pursue a career in medicine?
Role-play provides children with an early introduction to medical professions, allowing them to explore and understand different roles. Playing the role of a healthcare provider fosters empathy, self-esteem and compassion as well as encourages problem-solving and critical thinking skills. These cognitive abilities are fundamental in the medical field. Additionally, children become comfortable with real medical equipment at a young age. Acting out different medical roles helps children discover what they enjoy most about the healthcare field. Role-playing as a healthcare provider doesn’t just set kids up for success in medicine; it equips them with valuable life skills and fosters qualities that are beneficial in any career path they choose to pursue.
Why choose to include a working stethoscope with certain kits?
Including a working stethoscope was a deliberate choice aimed at enhancing the role-play experience for children. Its inclusion enriches the play experience, making it more fun, educational and meaningful for children. Watching a child listen to their heartbeat for the very first time is indescribable. Their eyes get wide and the smile on their face says it all. It makes everything we are doing at Little Medical School worth it! I wish this program had been around when I was a kid.
Why should specialty toy retailers carry Little Medical School’s products?
Little Medical School’s products have a unique blend of education and entertainment. Unlike many other toys on the market, our products offer an educational experience that’s both immersive and fun. For kids, our toys provide an engaging way to learn about medicine and health. Parents appreciate the educational value of our toys, as they encourage their children to explore potential careers in healthcare.
What tips would you give retailers to effectively sell your products?
Familiarize yourself with the key features and benefits of our products. While our primary audience is children ages 4 to 14 with an interest in science and healthcare, parents, grandparents and educators looking for STEM-based educational toys are a significant part of our customer base. Showcase the different kits together to emphasize the range of options available. You’re not just selling a product – you’re selling an experience. By focusing on the educational value and fun our products offer, you’ll be able to effectively engage your customers and drive sales.
Little Medical School programs are available across the states and internationally. What is your hope for a child participating in this program?
Our hope is to expand children’s knowledge, spark interest in the medical field, develop important life skills, boost their confidence and promote healthy habits. Through the Little Medical School program, we strive to inspire, educate and empower children, setting them up for success, no matter what path they choose in life. Above all, we hope they have fun while learning, discovering the joy that comes from curiosity and exploration.
What does the Little Medical School program entail? How long is it? What topics does it cover?
Little Medical School offers more than 400 hours of curriculum. Programs include Little Doctor, Little Nursing, Pharmacy, Veterinary Medicine, Nutrition, Pediatrician, Sports Medicine, Dentistry, Wilderness Medicine, Journey Through the Body and Med School for Teens – with each covering different topics. For example, Little Doctor School students learn the key responsibilities of a doctor and explore the heart, lungs and digestion system. Students use real medical instruments (stethoscope, reflex hammer and blood pressure cuff) and practice scrubbing, suturing and tying knots like a real surgeon.
Are there any other healthcare fields that you’d like to promote through your toy line?
We are currently writing a forensic science program and would love to create a toy based around forensics, educating kids how forensic science helps to solve crimes by using fingerprints, shoe prints, chromatography and more. We are also looking into creating a surgery program using robotics and a neurology program; we’re hoping to create toys around both.