VERNON (KFDX/KJTL) — A visit to the doctor’s office can be a scary thing for most people, but for a child with cognitive disabilities, a visit can be terrifying. However, 10 middle school special education students got to be a patient and play doctor with some nursing majors in their Vernon College lab, set up to resemble a hospital environment.
“We worked with them, just like sitting on the bed, the small things,” Nursing Simulation Lab coordinator Jennifer Hatley said. “Lifting the head of the bed up and down, doing blood pressures, we let them listen to our heart with the stethoscope so that we could listen to theirs.”
The activity came about after a parent told Special Education Director Toni Waldo they had to sedate their child to even get their teeth cleaned or eyes checked, an exhausting and costly experience for them both.
Waldo said they made a special plan for him to visit the nurse’s station every day with the hope to desensitize him to medical environments.
“I talked to Jennifer Hatley, the nursing director here, and I said maybe we can take that a step further where we can bring them to your simulation lab and you can show them more of the medical setting and we can desensitize so that we don’t have so much anxiety and fits,” Waldo said.
Waldo said the activity can be beneficial for both special needs students and student nurses.
“If it’s stressful for our children and our parents, it’s very stressful for the medical staff as well,” Waldo said.
“This was a really good experience for me and I feel like in the long run, this can help me in my nursing career.” Vernon College Senior Nursing Student Kebrenna Jemison said.
By the end of the visit, Jemison says what was once a scary feat has students smiling and having fun with the equipment they are getting to know and understand.