Stickers are the currency of pediatric medical treatment.
That is just one of the lessons Indiana University Kokomo nursing student Tiffany Ploughe learned as a volunteer at the recent Kokomo Schools Head Start Health Fair.
Ploughe and 19 of her classmates in the community health nursing class took temperatures and blood pressures, measured heights and weights, assisted with dental exams and listened to heart beats of hundreds of 3-, 4- and 5-year-old children. The health fair prepared the children to attend the free preschool program at Darrough Chapel Early Learning Center in the fall.
IUK students also gave out lots of stickers, rewarding the children for participating in the examinations. Not only did they gain practice with pediatric patients, but also they used their nursing skills to serve their community.
Nursing goes beyond patient care in the hospital, and this class teaches that, said Joyce Hollingsworth, lecturer in nursing.
“We try to give them a 360-degree view of what a nurse does in a community setting, not just bedside,” she said in a press release. “They don’t get a lot of opportunities to work with pediatric patients in hospitals, so this is also a chance to learn about how working with children is different than adults.”
Ploughe spoke softly to one reluctant little girl, who sobbed when it is time to have her temperature taken. The child buried her face in her mother’s shoulder, and Ploughe gently placed the thermometer in her ear and quickly read her temperature, before rewarding her with a sticker.
“They’re more apprehensive than an adult would be, so you can’t just say you’re going to stick the thermometer in their ears,” she said. “You have to say you’re going to touch their ears. The sticker helps. As long as I stay calm, that helps too.”