OT and PA students teach oral health to preschool children

Matt Bolton, an occupational therapy student, teaches effective tooth brushing techniques to a child from the M.L. Keefe Community Center as part of an oral health education day with occupational therapy and physician assistant students.

Oct. 15, 2013 - Collaborative learning and teaching was the theme of the day when occupational therapy and physician assistant students  conducted an oral/dental health education program with a preschool class of 3- and 4-year-olds from the M.L. Keefe Community Center in Hamden on Oct. 7.

"This was a great interprofessional experience," said Tracy Van Oss, clinical associate professor of occupational therapy. "In the School of Health Sciences, we try to give students as many opportunities as we can to work with peers from other health science programs. These kinds of interprofessional programs let students learn and work with each other and make new friends."

The children began the day at Quinnipiac's North Haven Campus. The occupational therapy students spent the morning evaluating the children, which gave them the chance to learn in a hands-on environment what a 3- and 4-year-old can do developmentally.

During the afternoon, physician assistant students joined their peers and engaged the children in fun, activity-based programs designed to teach proper dental hygiene and oral health. The children learned about taking care of their teeth, cavities, flossing and more.

In the past, the physician assistant program has conducted similar oral health programs with children as a community service, but this was the first time that occupational therapy and physician assistant students worked collaboratively on the program.

"Health science students will work in health care teams in the future so learning about other health care professions now is imperative," Van Oss said.

The occupational therapy students who participated were Matt Bolton, Laura Cataldo, Rachael Chiulli, Carly Gamer, Peiluen Kuo, Kelly Meara, and Kerrin Walsh. 

The physician assistant students were Kerin Berger, Eric Black, Chelsea Byrd, Arielle Curzman, Patrick Duffy, Ian Gillman, Haleh Golafshani, Bethany Hrica, Kathleen Kelley, Tim Lincoln, Matt Masiello, Liz Murray, and Meghan Sprague.