The Joplin campus of the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences kicked off its first health screenings of the 2019-20 academic year Tuesday through its recently launched Score 1 for Health, a preventive screening program for children.
The program gives KCU Joplin second-year medical students, under the supervision of physicians and registered nurses, the opportunity to provide free health assessments — including dental, blood pressure and physical checks — to elementary pupils. In addition, licensed practical nursing students from Franklin Technology Center’s adult education program measured the pupils’ height and weight and offered vision screenings, and KCU Joplin’s anatomy department offered STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — activities.
The program last year screened pupils at four Joplin elementary schools, and university leaders hope it will expand this year to cover all of them, said Laura Rosch, dean of the Joplin campus. A key component will extend the program beyond the initial health screenings to allow KCU Joplin to provide referrals to community physicians or other relevant follow-up health care directions to the pupils’ families, she said.
About 130 West Central pupils in the second through fifth grades participated in the first screenings Tuesday, school nurse Alexis Basye said. Benefits to them extended beyond the health screenings to a glimpse into potential career pathways, she said.
“A lot of them don’t go to regular doctor appointments, so it’s a good interaction with a doctor,” she said. “And a lot of them want to be doctors, so there’s insight into what they could be doing.”
Basye said the school district’s aim in involving its pupils in Score 1 is to ensure they have no underlying problems that could interfere with their studies.
“Keep them healthy and keep them in school,” she said.
For the pupils themselves, it was a lot simpler. Second grader Hazel Gripp, 7, said she had fun on her field trip to KCU Joplin, and her summaries of the physical and eye exam she had during her different “stations” were straightforward.
“I laid down at one station, and at the second station I read tiny letters, and at the last station I learned about organs,” she said.
Morgan Clare, a second-year KCU Joplin student from Florida, helped during a morning session to conduct a physical and dental exam on a young pupil. She said the hands-on experience in a relatively pressure-free setting will be helpful as she continues her studies.
“For me, it’s getting comfortable in a clinical setting (and) being able to go in there and apply your skills,” she said. “School is hard, and it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re staring at a book all day, and this encounter remotivates you to eventually do this for a living.”
That direct experience with patients also was a benefit to the Franklin Tech students, who just last month started a Foundations of Nursing class, said Katie Bozarth, the school’s practical nursing coordinator.
“This is our students’ first experience with having a patient, so it’s a good way to get them acclimated to nurse-patient interactions,” she said. “We are excited to participate in this program. Anytime we can collaborate with the community, it’s a win-win situation.”