UK AMA Medical Students Make a Difference at Mary Todd Elementary

UK AMA Medical Students Make a Difference at Mary Todd Elementary
By Jessica Adkins, U.K. Medical Student

University of Kentucky AMA Medical Students have started the AMA Elementary Education Program, in which they visit the students of Mary Todd Elementary each month to teach them about their health. The children of MTE come from one of the poorest districts in the county. They are disproportionally affected by challenges beyond the classroom like food insecurity, obesity, and emotional stress. The mission is to empower them to take responsibility for the aspects of their health that they can control. The medical students’ monthly visits focus on small choices and simple guidelines to improve habits like nutritious eating, healthy sleep, hand washing for disease control, and physical exercise.

During each visit, the fourth-grade students of MTE learn about a new health topic from a different physician and AMA members. They make the lessons memorable through repetition, interactivity, and creative games. For example, February’s topic was Caring for My Kidneys. The AMA members were accompanied by a renal health mascot, “Sidney the Kidney” and UK nephrologist Dr. Peter Sawaya. The interactive lesson demonstrated kidney function using coffee filters, salt, and Skittles. The hands-on activities and goofy character solidify important guidelines like choosing water over soda, and controlling sugar and fat consumption. By the end of the event, the kids could describe kidney function and the importance of making healthy nutritional choices.

Its first year has been an incredible success because everyone involved benefits from the experience. More medical students and physicians get engaged with AMA and the Lexington community. Each medical student gets to build a more personal relationship with the physician they collaborate with, fostering mentorship. The children gain a lasting understanding of healthy habits and get to interact with medical students who are positive academic role models. Through my Elementary Education Program, UKCOM AMA has developed a sustainable personal relationship with the Lexington community. Now we’re simply considering ways to improve the program for next year.

If you would like to participate in the AMA Elementary Education Program, contact UK Medical Student & Community Service Chair, Jessica Adkins