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NIU Today | Nursing students take their skills out to the community

Lesia Kozych took what she’s learned in the classroom and used it to inspire seventh and eighth-grade science students at St. Mary’s School in DeKalb. The NIU School of Nursing student and fellow classmates had the teaching opportunity thanks to a community health clinical rotation at the area school.

Nursing student recently visited seventh and eighth grade science classes at St. Mary’s School in DeKalb.

“Our students are benefitting and the students at St. Mary’s are benefitting,” said NIU clinical instructor, Chantal Manhart. “It’s a true win-win.”

Manhart said while the children at St. Mary’s learn about microbiology, Huskie students are learning essential skills.

“What is nice is they are getting to teach what they know and improve communication skills,” Manhart said. “For nurses to teach about disease and infections, bacteria and viruses – to a level of understanding for students – means they have to understand it themselves.”

Kozych shared the sentiment.

“The information was gathered from my microbiology college textbook, and I modified it to fit their age group,” Kozych said. “We also taught them relevant and practical life skills, including the importance of handwashing and maintaining the immune system.”

Kozych said they talked about how factors like nutrition, sleep, and stress can have detrimental effects on health, and what steps children can take to make positive choices in their lives.

“I really enjoy interacting with the kids; They always have the most interesting stories to share either from their adventures at recess or things they’re interested in,” she said. “Certain classes were really connecting with our presentation, asking questions and discussing topics with their peers. This made me so excited because it showed that they were engaged in what we had to teach them.”

Manhart said these real-world opportunities are important because it will allow nursing students to be better educators with their patients in the future. In turn, the Huskies act as role models, and may even inspire the youngsters to pursue nursing or another degree.

“They may say yes, I can be like them and go to college and be a nurse or go into a health care field or science field,” Manhart said.

Learn more about NIU’s School of Nursing.

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