MEPNs provide health teaching for preschoolers

This post is written by guest writer and 2nd year MEPN, Meagan O’Mahoney

teaching first aid

(Melissa Hollister, Caleb Kuo, & Nancy Chau teaching about first aid)

While the semester comes to a close, there is never a shortage of fun at USD Manchester’s Family Child Development Center (MFCDC). After spending about six months at the site for our community health requirement, our clinical group had the pleasure of getting to know not only the children, but also the staff and parents. We took the opportunity to utilize the nurse educator role at our site through weekly educational lessons and activities with the children, including sessions on dental hygiene, fire safety, sun safety, body mechanics, and many others. While fall semester progressed, we wanted to plan a fun activity for the children that would have an impact both at Manchester and for future visits the children may take to their pediatrician offices. We planned to take the children to the Dickinson Nursing Simulation Center, inside of the USD Beyster Institute for Nursing Research for a clinical day. As a group, we planned four different stations for the children with a toddler oriented lesson in mind. We taught about basic first aid, the body systems, hand-washing, and did vital signs. We had a total of 47 children visit between two days, making a very fun experience for them all!

teaching My Plate

(Kristen Nicholson and Tia Corbin teaching on ‘My Plate’)

For many young children, a hospital or doctors office can be an extremely terrifying place to visit, mainly because of the fear of what could happen or escalation of an already existing fear of shots. We wanted to plan this trip to the lab for two reasons: to show the children where their “nurses” go to school and that the doctor’s office isn’t a scary place, it can be a fun! We took the time to talk about what kind of room we were in, what usually happens here, and that they can meet nurses just like us wherever they go. At the basic first aid station, we taught what to do if you get a scratch, how to apply pressure if you are bleeding, treating swelling, and allergic reactions. The children really enjoyed being able to “treat” their stuffed animals that had cuts/scratches. Our group also educated on fire safety to reiterate the importance of staying away from fires if you are near one.

At the vitals station we took the opportunity to get all the children’s height and weight measured, as well as their pulse, oxygen saturation, and temperature. These are all things that happen regularly at a doctors office, so it gives them a sense of normalcy for the opportunity to have something that can be scary done by someone they know. The education portion included our past education on body mechanics and nutrition, which we had received feedback from multiple parents about educating more on. They learned about how eating the right foods makes them big and strong, but also that staying active will keep their muscles and bones strong and healthy.

taking a weight


(Matthew Parker taking a weight of a MFCDC child)

At the body systems station, although the content had the potential to be very daunting, the children really enjoyed it. They learned about their organs, and fun facts about them such as that their skin is the largest organ. Tying into the vital signs station, we talked about the importance in exercising to keep our muscles strong and our bones healthy. We gave the children the opportunity to listen to their own heart and lung sounds, as well as a simulated baby’s heart and lung sounds. This was very exciting for the children because most of them haven’t had that opportunity before.

Simulated baby heart

(Hanna Penney assisting with listening to the simulated baby heart!)

One of the most important stations that we had at the simulation lab was hand-washing. Many children do not grasp the importance of hand-washing. We have taught on this topic once before, but we received feedback from the MFCDC staff and parents that this lesson should be reinforced. Children have a tendency to go to the bathroom then just run water over their hands, ignoring the soap and sometimes even the paper towel. The station was focused on making sure the children use soap and water when washing their hands, as well as scrubbing their hands for at least 15 seconds. To make this a fun station, we used the black light “germ” paint to have the children scrub off then used a black light to show them the germs that were left behind. We taught the children to sing the happy birthday song while washing their hands to ensure that they were washing their hands for a full 15 seconds.

washing hands

Mackenzie Wischmeyer helping at the hand washing station

Overall, the children of Manchester enjoyed their simulation lab visit. They learned a great deal and were able to teach back some of the things they had learned. The simulation lab is a great experience for children to have because it gives them the opportunity to explore a doctor’s office without the fear of a real visit! The kids expressed how they did not find the doctors office scary and realized they had nurses like their “nurses” when they go visit. We are grateful for the experience Manchester FCDC has brought us and look forward to what the future holds for these kids!


(Sarah Cole showing the “germs” that were left over after hand washing under the blacklight)

About kathymarsh

Associate Dean at Hahn School of Nursing University of San Diego
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