Two semesters isn’t a lot time to analysis, plan and implement a number of new public well being initiatives from the bottom up. But that’s 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 tutorial 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 medical assistant professor and director of the Division of Dental Schooling at IU South Bend, is required for college kids’ skilled accreditation as dental hygienists. Nevertheless it’s additionally an necessary path to understanding their energy to instill wholesome habits within the purchasers.
“Dental hygiene college students are sometimes very targeted on medical 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 tip of the expertise, everybody’s actually shifted their focus. They begin to perceive the facility of talking to many individuals on the similar time and the way they’ll impression their communities.”
The opposite members within the course — well being promotion college students — are much less intimidated by public outreach because of the scope of their training as public well being professionals, she stated. However most haven’t had the possibility to implement their very own program.
Within the 2021-22 educational 12 months, 32 college students in Edmondson’s course performed 13 public well being training initiatives throughout the northern Indiana area, together with St. Joseph and Elkhart counties.
Among the many initiatives have 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 optimistic 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 analyze the wants of the communities to which they’re talking to tailor matters to their wants.
Sleep deprivation is a serious concern amongst in the present day’s highschool college students, for instance, so the IU college students who spoke at Elkhart Excessive College targeted their instructional program on matters such because the impact of blue gentle from cell telephones on sleep, in addition to different methods to get sufficient relaxation.
Equally, she stated, stress is an understandably widespread well being challenge amongst individuals experiencing homelessness, so the scholars who spoke to this group targeted their program on wholesome coping strategies. This system was additionally offered in partnership with “Wine and Canvas,” a neighborhood enterprise that teaches individuals to color in a enjoyable and interesting surroundings, so the data was delivered in a format that supplied members a chance to chill out.
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 challenge primarily targeted on encouraging membership members to enhance their oral well being to stop cavities and gingivitis. The challenge was delivered by 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, comparable to meals that strengthen enamel, how typically to brush and floss, and when it’s really helpful to go to a dentist. Additionally they labored to make the data enjoyable and interesting, comparable to an exercise through which kids made “mouths” out of marshmallows and building paper.
Edmondson additionally famous the scholars made an impression by handing out new toothbrushes after studying a number of the kids have been sharing theirs with siblings at house.
A former member of the Boys and Women Membership of St. Joseph County, Leal stated she leveraged connections throughout the group to rearrange the challenge.
“I’m a former membership member and knew I might rely on them,” she stated. “They’re at all times searching for visitor audio system, professionals or applications to increase 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 challenge. 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 applications. 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 have been looking forward to us to return again and work with them.”
Each college students stated the course impressed a want to proceed partaking in the neighborhood.
“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 didn’t know I had. Now that I do know that I’m able to creating and implementing a profitable dental well being program, it’s a ability I plan to make use of once more.”