Wallace State Nursing student Ashley McClintock of Cullman, right, shows first-graders a life vest during Let’s Pretend Hospital, as other Nursing students, Blake Howell of Cullman, left, Aaron Lanier of Birmingham, and Michelle Kreps of Cullman, look on.
HANCEVILLE – Over the last several weeks, the Wallace State Community College Department of Nursing Education has helped thousands of students in Blount and Cullman counties through two of its outreach programs. During the month of November, nursing students have participated in both the Sightsavers America KidCheck Plus program and in its own Let’s Pretend Hospital.
Through the KidCheck program, nursing students visited Susan Moore and Locust Fork elementary and high schools. The students worked at various stations where they gave the children a head-to-toe evaluation, said Wallace State Nursing Instructor Alicia Standridge.
After receiving dental and vision screenings, the elementary and high school students met with a Wallace State nursing student who took their height and weight, checked their heart and lungs, blood pressure, ears and throat. They listened to their abdomen and tested their musculoskeletal responses.
First-semester nursing student Megan Moore said she enjoyed her first experience with KidCheck. “I was nervous at first, but l feel like they’re more nervous than me now,” she said as she waited to help a new set of students in the Locust Fork Elementary School gym.
But there was no reason for the younger students to be nervous either, said first-grade teacher Crystal Evans, who prepares her students ahead of time so they know what will be happening during KidCheck. Evans added the event has proven beneficial to the students, recalling at least one occasion where one of her students discovered an issue with her vision and was able to follow up to get glasses.
“If you catch them early enough, especially in the lower grades, then they don’t lack that self-confidence and get so far behind,” Evans said.
Principal Amy Williamson said the KidCheck event is a great thing for their students. “It identifies some area of health needs we can pass on to their parents if they have something going on with their teeth or vision, and can let them seek outside medical attention,” she said. “It backs up what they parents are doing at home.”
She added the students enjoy visiting with the nursing students and the school enjoys the partnership with Wallace State.
“They provide the volunteers, time and effort for a good cause, to meet our students’ needs,” she said. “That’s the business we’re in, and if their health needs aren’t being met, it’s hard to teach them.”
In between their visits to KidCheck locations, nursing students participated in the annual Let’s Pretend Hospital, where every first-grader in public and private schools within Cullman County visits and learns about personal safety, healthy habits and what to expect if they have to go to the hospital.
In his third semester at Wallace State Nursing, Jesse Hailey of Blountsville experienced his second Let’s Pretend Hospital. Dressed as a banana in the room that promotes healthy eating habits, he said he enjoys seeing the joy on the children’s faces as they have fun during their visit, “and helping them experience that hospitals are not scary and just being able to help them.”
The Wallace State Department of Nursing Education will accept applications for Fall 2018 from March 15 through May 15. For more information about the program, visit www.wallacestate.edu/nursing or call 256-352-8199.