For some of the second-year medical students at Kansas City University’s Joplin campus, Wednesday’s Score 1 for Health screening event was the first time they’ve interacted with patients who were not actors used by the school.
For a few of the students at Columbia and West Central schools, this may be one of the first times they’ve had screenings for things like vision or dental issues.
For Annette Campbell, director of the Score 1 for Health program, that’s called a “win-win.”
“Our medical students benefit, of course, because they get to do an early clinical, hands-on assessment with a real live child,” Campbell said. “Kids are the best people out there to give a medical student that experience. They’re very genuine,. They are open, honest and ready to talk, and that’s a great experience for our med students to have.
“The kids benefit because they get a very basic screening. We do blood pressure, height, weight, vision, a physical assessment, a dental screening. All this information gets shared with mom and dad, and it’s information for them to follow up on if need be. Health screenings are important as children grow to know if everything is going OK. Most kids today are in their healthy state, and that’s what we’re confirming, but we may also be picking up on a few things that are not being observed.”
Accessing health care
Students from Columbia and West Central — future Dover Hill students — were bused from their schools to KCU’s campus, located at 2901 St. John’s Blvd., where they got some time away from the classroom, a medical, dental and vision checkup, and they got to tour Joplin’s medical school and get a little taste of a possible future career option as well.
“Access to health care is a big challenge in Joplin,” said Dr. John Paulson, KCU department chair for primary care. “Sometimes it’s hard to get kids into a doctor. Parents work or we don’t have enough physicians in a small town, and this is just kind of a service that hopefully is beneficial to parents. And it teaches these children not to be afraid of doctors.
“The other thing is having these children here and having them interact with student doctors; we really hope that some of the students we see today as patients will actually end up here as students, dentists, physicians when their time comes.”
The students lined up in the halls of the medical school and were seen individually by second-year KCU medical students.
Parents have to give written consent for the screenings. Campbell said between 85% and 90% of the students from the schools participated in the screenings.
In the vast majority of cases, the kids are healthy and nothing is found.
Paulson said in a small number of cases, these future physicians find issues that could require care by a family physician.
“We have multiple faculty members here, physicians, and this year including a dentist, who are monitoring the medical students,” Paulson said. “If we find something like a rash that doesn’t necessarily need urgent follow-up, we send a note home to the parents that says, ‘Hey, we noticed this on your child, you might want to see your doctor.’ If it’s more of an acute issue where we find something they need to be seen today or tomorrow for, we have a special process for where we get in communication with the parents today and let them know their child needs to be seen soon.
“In the schools, we’ll probably find five to 10 students who have an ear infection or pinkeye, something like that that the parents may or may not have known about. We’ll get notes home to them today and have them connected to a provider.”
‘Really important experience’
Medical student Kaitlyn Sbarro, originally from Philadelphia, said she noticed a problem with a student’s glasses during a screening.
“They were a little bit tilted at the moment so as someone who’s an avid wearer of glasses, I know that you need a good pair to learn and grow, and that’s what’s important for these guys right now,” Sbarro said. “I’m going to talk to one of the coordinators and see if we can get him some new glasses. The kids are really great. Kids are so special to me, I think pediatrics is a really interesting speciality.”
Sbarro said she’s had some experience working with patients as a phlebotomist and an EMT, but for some of her classmates, Wednesday was the first time they’ve interacted with real patients.
“I think this is a really important experience. It’s really informal, and the kids are so forgiving,” Sbarro said. “We’re able to practice our blood pressure, practice our medical skills on these kids. We want to do right by these kids, and we have such an amazing faculty around us that are guiding us and helping us know what to do.”
Campbell said Score 1 for Health is a department and part of the university, and they plan to see students at all the Joplin elementary schools before the end of this semester.
“This is just the beginning; in fact, today is sort of the launch for 2022,” Campbell said. “Starting next week, we will take our medical students out into the community to elementary schools. Our students will get on buses next week instead of the kids getting on buses and coming here. Our students will go to three elementary schools on Sept. 27, then we will have two more dates in the fall where they’ll go to elementary schools. We are going to end up providing these health screenings to every child in every Joplin elementary school before the end of the first semester.
“We also partner with Crowder and MSSU, the schools of nursing in the area, and they’ll meet us at the schools. They’re doing vision and height and weight here today too. We’ll help them provide training for their students.”