Two semesters is not a lot time to analysis, plan and implement a number of new public well being initiatives from the bottom up. But that is what 32 college students at IU South Bend did throughout their senior 12 months — and what as much as 40 do yearly — as a part of a course that caps the academic expertise for college kids within the dental hygiene program and well being promotion focus of the BS in Well being Sciences within the Indiana College South Bend Dwyer School of Well being Sciences.
The 2-semester course, led by Mallory Edmondson, a scientific assistant professor and director of the Division of Dental Training at IU South Bend, is required for college kids’ skilled accreditation as dental hygienists. However it’s additionally an essential path to understanding their energy to instill wholesome habits within the purchasers.
“Dental hygiene college students are sometimes very centered on scientific work and gaining expertise with sufferers individually, to allow them to get a bit overwhelmed by the scope of this course,” stated Edmondson. “However by the top of the expertise, everybody’s actually shifted their focus. They begin to perceive the facility of chatting with many individuals on the identical time and the way they will impression their communities.”
The opposite individuals within the course — well being promotion college students — are much less intimidated by public outreach as a result of scope of their schooling as public well being professionals, she stated. However most haven’t had the prospect to implement their very own program.
Within the 2021-22 tutorial 12 months, 32 college students in Edmondson’s course performed 13 public well being schooling tasks throughout the northern Indiana area, together with St. Joseph and Elkhart counties.
Among the many tasks had been a three-day program to show oral well being to fourth grade college students within the Boys & Women Membership of St. Joseph County; a program to show good sleep habits to highschool college students at Elkhart Excessive College in Elkhart, Ind.; and a program about constructive stress administration for members of the South Bend Middle for the Homeless, the area’s largest residential facility for people and households experiencing homelessness.
Though oral hygiene is a pure subject for most of the college students within the course, Edmondson stated college students are inspired to research the wants of the communities to which they’re chatting with tailor subjects to their wants.
Sleep deprivation is a serious concern amongst at the moment’s highschool college students, for instance, so the IU college students who spoke at Elkhart Excessive College centered their academic program on subjects such because the impact of blue mild from cell telephones on sleep, in addition to different methods to get sufficient relaxation.
Equally, she stated, stress is an understandably widespread well being concern amongst folks experiencing homelessness, so the scholars who spoke to this group centered their program on wholesome coping strategies. This system was additionally offered in partnership with “Wine and Canvas,” a neighborhood enterprise that teaches folks to color in a enjoyable and fascinating atmosphere, so the data was delivered in a format that supplied individuals a chance to loosen up.
Yasmin Leal, a senior dental hygiene scholar who co-led the oral hygiene program on the Boys & Women Membership of St. Joseph County, stated her mission primarily centered on encouraging membership members to enhance their oral well being to stop cavities and gingivitis. The mission was delivered by means of an afterschool program sponsored by the membership at Harrison Elementary College in South Bend.
Subjects included oral well being care suggestions, in addition to different methods to take care of a wholesome mouth, reminiscent of meals that strengthen tooth, how usually to brush and floss, and when it is really helpful to go to a dentist. Additionally they labored to make the data enjoyable and fascinating, reminiscent of an exercise during which youngsters made “mouths” out of marshmallows and development paper.
Edmondson additionally famous the scholars made an impression by dealing with out new toothbrushes after studying a few of the youngsters had been sharing theirs with siblings at dwelling.
A former member of the Boys and Women Membership of St. Joseph County, Leal stated she leveraged connections throughout the group to rearrange the mission.
“I’m a former membership member and knew I might rely on them,” she stated. “They’re all the time in search of visitor audio system, professionals or packages to broaden members’ information and alternatives.”
This system additionally made a measurable impression on the scholars, stated Caylee Gee, a senior dental hygiene scholar, who co-led the mission. To measure their program’s success, each participant within the course distributes pre- and post-tests to the people addressed on the primary and final day of the outreach packages. Gee stated the fourth-grade college students from their program had an general enchancment of 42 share factors, with post-test scores averaging 94 p.c.
“We realized that spending a number of days with the scholars had a big impression,” Gee stated. “Plus, we might inform they loved this system. They bought excited in regards to the actions daily, they usually had been anticipating us to come back again and work with them.”
Each college students stated the course impressed a want to proceed participating locally.
“Planning this program was a difficult however rewarding journey of self-discovery,” stated Leal. “Over the course of the 2 semesters, I developed abilities I did not know I had. Now that I do know that I am able to creating and implementing a profitable dental well being program, it is a talent I plan to make use of once more.”