LEXINGTON, Ky. − Fourth grade students at Maxwell Elementary School in Lexington are receiving firsthand knowledge about health professions and they're doing it with guidance from students at the University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences.
In a year-long partnership with Maxwell Spanish Immersion Magnet School, UK College of Health Sciences faculty members Randa Remer and DeShana Collett are working closely with Maxwell's principal in a program that encourages kids to think about careers in health care. The goal of the program is to give students an understanding of different professions early on so they understand the career opportunities available to them and give them a chance to discover what interests them.
"We'd like to bring health care into the classroom," said Remer, assistant dean of student affairs in the College of Health Sciences. "It's both about the career and about sending a message about being stronger, healthy individuals."
The Pipeline Project integrates information about different health professions into Maxwell's fourth grade science curriculum, which includes spending a month studying the science involved with a specific profession, as well as learning about what the associated health care professionals do on a daily basis. At the end of the month, students and practitioners within the specific field visit the school to talk to the students, answer any questions they may have, and provide learning activities.
Last December, UK College of Dentistry students demonstrated to the Maxwell students how different substances affect tooth enamel by displaying egg shells immersed in different substances our teeth frequently come in contact with. This month, students from the Division of Physical Therapy in the College of Health Sciences are visiting the school.
“This was a great opportunity to give back to the community and invest in our future,” said physical therapy student Ericka Emerson, who graduates in the spring. “Introducing the children to physical therapy at such a young age gets them thinking about future career opportunities, spurs their interest in health sciences, and encourages them to lead healthier lifestyles.”
Collett, assistant professor in the Division of Physician Assistant Studies, said they miss out if they don't catch the children early and get them excited about careers in the health professions.
"We want to draw a connection between science and math and the healthcare industry. I hope they’ll be able to draw on their own experience from the activities and see how it will impact their future health choices and possible health careers,” she said.
This a great opportunity to help young children learn about health care careers and their own health and it is an opportunity for UK students to interact with children and gain experience in engaging with them on a topic that will matter to them for the rest of their lives, said Tony English, director of the UK Division of Physical Therapy. “Learning the importance of a healthy lifestyle and staying active will make a difference in their individual lives and also help our society be healthier in the future.”
In the coming months, students from the Physician Assistant's Studies, Communication Science and Disorders, Clinical Nutrition, and Medical Laboratory Science programs also will visit Maxwell Elementary.