“Tibia!” one fourth-grade student excitedly shouted in response to Christy Yates, a Little Nursing School volunteer instructor who pointed to her shin and asked, “Which bone is this?”
“It’s amazing how much they can retain,” said Yates, who used to be an elementary school teacher but came to the University of Missouri–St. Louis to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing. “One of the girls remembered ‘perioperative’ even.”
In her final rotation in UMSL’s 15-month accelerated BSN program, Yates fulfilled the community health requirement for her degree by teaching a group of fourth-grade girls in the Little Nursing School program. It places UMSL nursing students in teaching roles at Girls Inc. of St. Louis and Barack Obama Elementary School through the Normandy Schools Collaborative.
Five other UMSL accelerated nursing students, Carol Cowell, Tea Falt, Kirstin Hill, Morgan Kidd and Courtney Roam, joined Yates in teaching the girls all about the nursing profession and health science this summer.
On this day, the lesson at Girls Inc. covered broken bones and how to care for them. Yates asked to hear the girls’ stories on the topic.
“Well, I saw my brother’s friend’s bone broken, poking through his skin after he fell playing basketball,” said one girl.
“That’s a compound fracture,” Yates explained. “It’s called that because the bone completely breaks and is sticking out through the skin.”
Each class session addressed these real-life situations, teaching the girls nursing procedures and techniques while they learned about the human body.
While Hill and Roam passed an example cast around, Yates reviewed a couple of the words of the day – “cast” and “splint.” The girls tried the cast on, felt the material with their fingers and learned through play.
“LNS gets young students interested in health sciences, and hopefully, a nursing career,” said Sheila Grigsby, assistant professor and lead faculty member for community health nursing.
She coordinates with Santita Nunn, the program director of Girls Inc., to make the Little Nursing School possible.
“It’s great for UMSL,” Nunn said. “It’s right down the street, right in the neighborhood. And it gives UMSL students an opportunity to give back to their community and the young girls, who are the future women of the profession.”
All 20 of the fourth-grade girls graduated from the Little Nursing School program this past July. Their graduation was shortly followed by that of their instructors on Aug. 8, who each completed a BSN at UMSL.
Little Nursing School student Kamille Buck said she enjoyed her time in class and making new friends. Since then, she’s returned to Jackson Park Elementary School in University City, Mo. She also has a new life goal.
“I want to be a surgeon,” Buck said, “and help people get better.”
To see the fourth-grade girls of the Little Nursing School bust an impromptu rhyme about health science, click here or on the video below.