ODI and First-Gen Pre-PA Scholars encourage third-graders to seek careers in medicine during visit

Young child doing chest compressions on a dummy

ODI and First-Gen Pre-PA Scholars encourage third-graders to seek careers in medicine during Ohio State visit 

By Aaron Marshall

Four dozen third-graders wrapped splints, tried CPR chest compressions, listened through stethoscopes, and were read aloud the "Medical School for Kids" children's book series as ODI Morrill Scholars and First-Gen Pre-PA Scholars welcomed them to campus to spark career interests in medicine.

The November visit from third-graders from Eakin Elementary, a West Side Columbus Public school, was the brainchild of Tiffany Nguyen, who organized the event along with her student group, First-Gen Pre-Physician Assistant Group.

"It's not a suggestion, but a moral imperative to extend a helping hand to these students," said Nguyen, a fourth-year Morrill Scholar. "In doing so, we are laying the groundwork for a society that values the prosperity of students from marginalized identities," she said. "What separates these students from their counterparts is opportunity."

During the visit, the students were "ever curious" as they bounced among the activities and listened to readings in Spanish and English from the "Medical School for Kids" series. The healthcare-based children's books cover the "ABCs of Anatomy" to "Dermatology for Kids" and feature diverse characters and settings.

Another activity that drew high interest from the third-graders was a pimple popping station. With several dermatologists on hand to explain the whys of popping, the kids were eager to give it a squeeze. "It was a real hit with the teachers, doctors, and especially the kids!" said Nguyen.

"These students belong within higher education, no matter the educational boundaries that burden them," Nguyen said. Nguyen recalled growing up speaking broken English at school with Vietnamese immigrant parents who weren't able to help her navigate her school world. "When I was planning this event, I was thinking of the students who also don't speak English as their first language, and I was instantly reminded of the barriers that prevented me from achieving an equitable education," she said.

Also included in the event was a chance for students to ask questions of a handful of Ohio State and Nationwide Childrens' doctors who participated in the event. And every young student went home with a white lab coat, a stethoscope, an Ohio State University "Junior Medical School" diploma, a bag of school supplies, and the entire "MD for Kids" children's book series to remember their encounter with the medical community at Ohio State.

Nguyen said she hoped the event would contribute to the creation of a more diverse pool of future leaders in medicine. Currently, Black and Hispanic-identifying physicians represent only about one in eight doctors across the country.

"I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to empower these students and to help build a strong foundation of higher education and hope within them at a young age," said Nguyen. "I give great credit to MSP and MSP's Charity Butler for giving me a guiding hand and ensuring that the event come to fruition ever since I came to her with the idea last year. I could not have done this without her."

Young children in white lab coats listen to doctors.
Young girl in white lab coat with a stethoscope
Kids play the game Operation