McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Grade 5 students explore clinical skills at medical school

By Sean Meister
Published: June 13, 2013
Kaylyn Merrifield teaching Grade 5 students in Kitchener
Kaylyn Merrifield, a first-year medical student at the Waterloo Regional Campus, demonstrates the role of the esophagus to Grade 5 students from Driftwood Park Public School in Kitchener during the MACgic School Bus program on June 12, 2013.

Grade 5 students in Kitchener-Waterloo stepped aboard the MACgic School Bus program this month to learn about the world inside the Waterloo Regional Campus¬†of McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

For half a day, students are spending time with the medical students, rotating through four different activities, each teaching them about a different aspect of the human body.

Medical students provide a guided tour of the campus and others are manning different stations and involving the young students in interactive activities. In the clinical skills laboratory, the children are measuring their heart rate as they learn about the cardio-respiratory system; finding out about food groups while exploring the digestive system and nutrition; understanding how the brain sends signals, and what happens in a concussion and the importance of wearing helmets; and learning the importance of hand washing in a session on the immune system and germs.

More than 75 elementary students are taking part in the MACgic School Bus program over three days in June.

Colin Yardley, who graduated from the undergraduate medical program last month, started the program two years ago. Always interested in teaching, he thought it would be a nice way of blending his interests in medicine and teaching.

Close to 200 local students have participated in the program during the last two years. In format, the program models McMaster’s pioneering problem-based learning approach in which students learn through case-based, small group learning.

"We try to give them a bit of a taste," Yardley said. "In the clinical skills lab we even tried to make the situations pseudo-medical and allow the students to get a bit of a picture of what learning is like at Mac."

Other medical students are keen to be involved to insure the program continues. First-year medical student, Jordan Farag, is the program’s new co-ordinator with 10 medical students joining him as volunteers.

"I like teaching kids. A few months ago we had a similar program for Grade 11 and 12 students and I did some teaching for that in the anatomy section and dissection," Farag said.

"It’s a nice way to open up our doors...to let parents and kids know about us so when they go to hospital, and meet medical students, they are not surprised they have a medical school just down the street. It’s good community exposure and if we can inspire some kids to grow up and do something in health care, that’s awesome as well."

Dr. Cathy Morris, regional assistant dean of the Waterloo Regional Campus agreed.

"Being involved with the community that has so graciously welcomed them is important to our medical students and to their greater understanding of health care," she said. "McMaster encourages a culture of community service for students, faculty and staff."

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