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OCC nursing students teach preschoolers good health habits, ease fears

OCC nursing student Connie Pappa demonstrates taking a blood pressure reading for preschooler Anabella Haslemayer, 4.

OCC nursing student Connie Pappa demonstrates taking a blood pressure reading for preschooler Anabella Haslemayer, 4. Photo by Christina Alexander.

— Onondaga Community College graduating nursing students paused from their studies and endless reading last week to teach preschoolers enrolled in the college’s Children Learning Center about health promotion and prevention.

On Friday, Sept. 30, 28 preschoolers visited "stations" manned by 12 pediatric clinical nursing students, including one where students demonstrated proper bandaging technique on each child's favorite stuffed animal.

“A lot of times, when preschoolers go to the doctor, they see doctors in the white coats and they are intimidated," said Mary Dooley, nursing associate professor." That’s our main goal: to help with the fear they might have.”

But the "reciprocal learning" opportunity was also a chance for nursing students to gain real-world, hands-on experience working with young children.

Students paired up and put their nursing knowledge to the test, walking the kids through hand washing, listening to their heart with a stethoscope, taking their blood pressure, bandaging, and learning how wheelchairs and hospital beds work.

Connie Pappa, a nursing student who will graduate in mid-October, agrees activities like these make the process of becoming a nurse a bit easier.

“When you’re reading something in the books, it’s sometimes not as easy to go out there and do it," Pappas said. "The hands-on activities really help us learn. It’s great.”

Joe Carelli, another nursing student who participated in the event, was in charge of the height and weight station. He was excited to teach children something that he didn’t get to experience at a young age.

“Fear is huge,” Carelli said. “I work in a children’s hospital and the kids fear stethoscopes and I.V. pulls. They aren’t in that kind of environment that much. I never had anything like this when I was a child, it’s really cool.”

Dooley hopes to continue with the service project next year and continue educating children that doctors aren’t so bad after all.

“It’s a two-way street,” Dooley said. “These students are engaged and it makes learning fun. The kids walk away with something about health care.”

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