HPU students provide free evaluations for children

·2 min read

Oct. 16—HIGH POINT — High Point University physician assistant students are gaining real-life experience with patients as they provide free health assessments at the Guilford County Health Department for new kindergarten through 12th-grade students.

Since the start of the school year, 350 local students have received free health assessments, required for any new students entering North Carolina public schools.

The weekly volunteer work allows HPU physician assistant students to apply what they are learning in the classroom in an actual health care setting, said Dr. Michele Jedlica, assistant professor in HPU's Department of Physician Assistant Studies.

"This is one way to help ensure our children in our community stay well so they can succeed in school," Jedlica said. "Our PA students know their education got them to this point. They are giving the same opportunity to students in High Point."

Health assessments start with hearing and vision screenings, and include height and weight checks "to make sure they're nutritionally where they should be with their growing in the right percentiles," Jedlica said.

"We talk to caregivers about any health concerns that might interfere with their ability to learn in school," Jedlica said. "Or if they have a food allergy, we walk through that and make sure all the forms are filled out so they have what they need if they have a reaction at school."

Alexis Tully, 27, said she volunteers in order to get more comfortable talking to patients and to give back to the community.

"It's opened my eyes a little bit in dealing with different populations and how to talk to patients of different ages," Tully said. "We see a variety of ages between 5 and 16, and different cultural populations, too."

Primary care physicians often provide physicals for students who are new to the state public school system, but the ongoing pandemic has made it more difficult for many families who are new to the area to get established with a physician, Jedlica said.

Erica Kerr, 23, said Thursday was her third time volunteering with Jedlica at the clinic. She said the experience will improve her patient-provider interactions. She and Tully are scheduled to start the clinical part of their education in August and graduate in August 2023.

"It benefits us with the learning process," Kerr said. "I get to see the interaction with translators, and it's something I might not have seen in my first year as a physician assistant student. We're able to see a variety of patients, and that all patients are not going to be the same."

Parents who want more information or to schedule an appointment for children who do not have health insurance or a medical provider can call 336-641-3896.

cingram@hpenews.com — 336-888-3534 — @HPEcinde

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