Physician Assistant students connect with local preschoolers

Good habits start young, which is why Marietta College’s Physician Assistant Graduate Program is teaming up with the Ely Chapman Education Foundation (ECEF) this fall to help teach preschoolers about healthy living.

Ely Chapman is a nonprofit organization providing academic support and mentoring to children living in the Mid-Ohio Valley. In September, students in Marietta College’s Physician Assistant Graduate Program began visiting Ely Chapman’s preschool classes to teach the youngsters about their bodies and how health care providers help to keep them well.

“Some preschoolers have a real fear of medical providers,” says Alice Chapman, Founder of the ECEF. “What we are trying to do is to have providers come and meet the children where they feel safe. For a child to be able to ask, ‘Why do you do this?’ or ‘Why do you sometimes wear a mask?’ or allow the child to handle some of the medical instruments — it might help them not be so afraid when they visit the provider and learn more about their bodies.”

Brad Pierce, Assistant Professor in the PA Program, helped to develop an outline of topics that Marietta’s graduate students will explore with the young students. September’s topic was skin, followed by the senses in October; bones, muscles and joints in November; mouth and teeth in January; heart and lungs in February; and the digestive system in March.

“Approximately six Marietta College PA students will go to Ely Chapman and give the presentations to the new pre-school students,” says Miranda Collins, Associate Professor and Director of the PA Program. “For the field trips to campus, the ECEF students will come to our building and our students will show them the exam rooms and medical instruments, allowing them to play with and become familiar with the equipment.”

Chapman came up with idea for the collaboration and hoped to obtain grant funding to support it. Though no grant was received for this year, the College and the ECEF are committed to the program.

The goals of the project are to help the preschoolers gain awareness and familiarity with medical personnel and accept wellness practices; to provide timely information to ECEF parents on healthy child development issues; and to provide Marietta College PA students with additional hands-on experience interacting with and performing examinations on young children.

“Also, it’s important for the College to continue developing relationships with the community to help build a stronger, more cohesive society. Interactions like this help promote social responsibility for our PA students — something we hope will continue throughout their health care careers, which is especially important as healthcare providers,” Collins says.