PA Students Educate Children on Oral Health

Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) PA student Micaela Carter is a shining example of PAs for oral health. With faculty support, Micaela and six of her classmates developed a curriculum designed for elementary-aged children that focused on oral health education and promotion.

Micaela and her peers launched the program by expanding a CWRU partnership with Metro Health, a public healthcare system in Cleveland, Ohio that provides basic healthcare services to students at 13 local schools who do not have access to proper healthcare. The student-designed oral health lessons will now be regularly incorporated into Metro Health’s School Wellness Program.

Starting at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, the PA students successfully taught the oral health curriculum using entertaining and attention-grabbing props in seven classrooms ranging from 12-30 students.

Additionally, CWRU PA students taught the curriculum to 15 preschool children at Laura’s Home Women’s Crisis Center, a ministry that offers services and shelter to women and children and a branch of The City Mission.

While the project initially faced a few obstacles, including unforeseen circumstances and scheduling conflicts, these determined PA students weren’t deterred; and the impact of this project speaks for itself.

“In just two outreach events, over 118 preschool and first grade children from a demographic with documented poor access to oral care experienced entertaining, relevant, and practical oral hygiene education,” said Carter. “Added to this number are countless staff, teachers, parents, volunteers, and caregivers who were impacted by the investment in the children they are responsible for. And yet, the greatest success of this oral health curriculum lies in its versatility, longevity, and sustainability.”

The supplies purchased can be used for years to come, and the next cohort of CWRU PA students is already preparing to continue this work in the fall. Great job, CWRU PA Program!

Prior to launching the project, CWRU PA students completed the Smiles for Life curriculum, didactic lectures covering oral health, and training on how to teach the curriculum.

This project was funded by the nccPA Health Foundation’s Oral Health Outreach grant.

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