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OU college of medicine plans mobile classroom to promote diversity in health professions

OKLAHOMA CITY — A large RV, customized as a health education classroom on wheels, is among the new projects the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine plans with a $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.

The grant is a one-year supplement that augments an initial $4.7 million award to the OU College of Medicine last year. The aim of the grant is to recruit, retain and admit students from rural, tribal and medically underserved areas, and to expand the primary care experience among current medical students. Data shows that students from those groups who attend medical school and residency in Oklahoma are more likely to return to their communities to practice medicine.

“Of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, 76 have a shortage of primary care physicians, and the need is particularly great in rural areas, underserved communities and tribes. The ultimate goal of this grant is to reduce healthcare disparities among Oklahomans and raise the health of the state,” said Steven Crawford, M.D., Senior Associate Dean of the College of Medicine and director of the Office of Healthcare Innovation and Policy. Crawford is leading the grant with James Herman, M.D., Dean of the OU-TU School of Community Medicine on the Tulsa campus.

The mobile classroom will allow the OU College of Medicine to introduce young people across Oklahoma to careers in health and to give them hands-on experience with activities like suturing, using a stethoscope or a microscope. The classroom will especially be geared toward smaller communities with fewer resources. Students from those areas may have the interest and skills to enter a health profession, but lack the opportunities to pursue it, said Robert Salinas, M.D., Assistant Dean for Diversity in the College of Medicine and a faculty lead for the grant.

“This mobile classroom will be a major asset in our outreach and in building long-term relationships with young people,” Salinas said. “This is not a one-year event, but is part of our efforts to build a pathway to medical school in which we mentor them over several years.”

Current students from all seven colleges at the OU Health Sciences Center, as well as the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work on OU’s Norman campus, will accompany the mobile classroom on trips around the state as part of their training to care for patients as an interprofessional team. They will not only introduce their chosen disciplines to the young people they encounter, but also see first-hand the challenges of life in underserved areas, where there are numerous barriers to good health.

The grant supplement will also allow the OU College of Medicine to launch the Medical School Readiness Program, an opportunity for students to be mentored as they prepare for the Medical College Admission Test, take part in mock interviews and job shadowing. This program is geared toward highly motivated students who traditionally have lacked the resources, because of time or money, to prepare for medical school.

The OU-TU School of Community Medicine, the

Muskegon teachers lead K-8 bike club to promote fitness during online learning

MUSKEGON, MI – Muskegon Public Schools is finding new ways to bring physical education to students while the district is online-only because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The district’s physical education teachers, with the help of local law enforcement, are leading a new bike riding club for K-8 students to ride safely through the Muskegon community. The daily program, which launched last week, begins and ends at one of the district’s four elementary schools Monday through Thursday.

“Our students love to be active,” said Jennifer Hammond, the district’s director of curriculum. “We often are confined by the four walls of the gymnasium for P.E., so this is just a lifelong skill of learning to love bike riding and knowing how to do it safely.”

Muskegon Public Schools started the school year online-only Aug. 26 in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. But the district has found unique ways to keep students engaged during virtual learning, including offering daily face-to-face tutoring sessions with teachers in small group settings.

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Another way the district has complemented virtual learning is through the bike club program, titled EMBARK. The program is offered four days a week from 2:15-3:15 p.m. and was created in conjunction with the Muskegon Rotary Club.

School leaders started planning for the program by creating and inspecting local bike routes over the summer.

“We would look at stop signs, we would look for potholes, we would look for pedestrian crosswalks,” she said. “And then someone from our team would talk to the city of Muskegon and they would go out and make the route even safer.”

The program was originally intended to be a way for students to bike to and from school every day safely, Hammond said. But when the district announced it would be online-only this fall, school leaders still wanted to offer some kind of bike riding program to students.

So for now, the club will take students on a recreational bike ride around the community every day. About a dozen kids have participated in the program since it started last week, all ranging from grades K-8, Hammond said.

“One of our kindergarten students asked her P.E. teacher if she could come along even through she was still on training wheels, and he said, ‘Of course,’” Hammond said. “So he just kept at a slower pace alongside her.”

Hammond said the program is open to all family members in the district and encourages parents to ride along as well. She said she hopes to eventually create a community bike route that any member of the community can use for safely riding their bikes around town.

The district is currently seeking volunteers to help by riding along to ensure student safety, which can be anyone in the Muskegon community. Volunteers can sign up here.

While the district is online-only right now, school leaders are looking to build up a volunteer base for if the district