These days its important to teach children more about healthcare than how to properly wash their hands or use a tissue. Children need to understand what diseases are, how they can get them, how they can prevent them, and what the consequences are to their body for their everyday actions. Also, with the recent nursing shortages, there has been a push to encourage young children to choose nursing as a future career. Nurses all over the country have been reaching out to kids and making nursing look cool.
Teaching Kids About NursingAt Clemson Univerisity in South Carolina, nursing students from a community health nursing class are sent out into elementary schools to introduce the children to the world of healthcare. These students brought nursing to life by dressing up and acting like different organs in the body. One student hung a large heart drawing from his neck, apologized for not looking like a Valentine’s Day heart, and proceeded to teach the children about heart healthy eating habits. Another student dressed as a kidney, and together with a partner, offered education on good habits and exercise. They even demonstrated how all the organs work as a team, to a chorus of giggles let out by the fifth graders. The Clemson students are striving to educate young children in an attempt to prevent more childhood obesity.
In Hammond, Indiana, nurse Tracy Tucker goes to work with her stethoscope, her lab coat, and her teddy bear. Tucker is a part of the Diabetes Educator Mentorship Program, created in 2011, and she helps educate children about their diabetes. Tucker was a school nurse for seven years before completing the 1,000 hours of work and volunteering it takes to become a certified diabetes educator, or a CDE. At one time, Tucker was 170 pounds overweight and nearing the point of Type 2 diabetes. She made some drastic life changes and decided to devote her time to helping others with diabetes learn how to manage and control their disease. So now she uses a stuffed teddy bear, named Rufus, to show children where to test blood sugar and where to inject insulin. She even has a stuffed fabric pancreas for a teaching tool.
In Virginia, Nurses Change Lives is doing just that. A part of the Virginia Partnership for Nursing, this education campaign is directed at children from elementary school all the way through high school and is basically pushing the idea that nursing is awesome and staying healthy is cool. They pinpoint their teaching tools to their age groups. For the kindergarten through third grade group, the have a nurse who zooms around on rocket shoes while telling a poem about a nurse who sent to Mars. For the older elementary through middle school children, nursing superhero’s of the “Nurse Force” teach kids about the superpowers of healthcare. The high school students get the real message with a stark realization of how nurses save lives and the monetary appeal of nurse’s high salaries.
The most important thing to remember when teaching kids about anything is to be creative and appeal to their senses and likes. Using theatre and silly props is almost always a great way to get a child’s attention. The hard part is not getting their attention, but keeping it long enough for them to learn. How would you teach a child about nursing?