CMED students taking outreach programs to local fourth graders


As the university's College of Medicine begins to grow from a fledgling operation to an institution in the Central Michigan University framework, the college is making its impression to young prospective students off campus.

A group of 15 students, identified as the pediatrics special interest group, have been working with Renaissance Public School Academy in Mount Pleasant.

The group organizes workshops for the school's fourth grade classes.

“They really thought it was important for their own development to be able to do some outreach to some elementary school-aged kids," said Charmica Abinojar, director of Student Affairs for CMED.  "They want to plant the seed and show what it may be like to go into medicine.”

Students in the group presented their first workshop to the class last month, which focused on items that might be found inside a doctor’s bag. The presentation also showed students how the items worked, including the proper way to use stethoscopes, reflex hammers and other tools.

Aside from getting children excited about potential careers in medicine, CMED students said another goal for the workshops is to make kids more comfortable with the idea of going to the doctor.

Stefanie DiGiandomenico and Yasha Parikh, first-year medical students from Livonia and Okemos, respectively, helped lead the pediatrics student group, and hope their endeavors will spark an interest among the students in the class.

“We taught them not only what the tools were, but how the doctor uses them and we let them figure out how they work,” DiGiandomenico said. “They were very excited for us to come in and are excited for us to come again. It was a great intro to the class.”

The group has three more workshops scheduled at the school for the rest of the semester. Future presentations will focus on healthy eating, exercise and hygiene, the group said. Healthy eating will be the next workshop on April 21, which the group considers important as an increase in childhood obesity rates is becoming a crucial concern nationwide.

“They are just basic concepts, but hopefully the class can build on them as they get older,” Parikh said.

Offering a valuable service to the community is one point of pride for the group. Another is being able to test their ideas and see what kind of interest future generations of students have in the field of medicine.

"Based on the feedback from the medical students who have worked with us, as well as the classroom, we think everyone is really enjoying this experience," Parikh said. "We're definitely going to try to expand to include more classrooms and eventually more schools."

While the class appreciates what the CMED group is doing, the experience that Parikh, DiGiandomenico and the rest of the group are getting will be valuable for their future careers in pediatric medicine.

“Community involvement is important to the college; it’s important to our mission and it’s important to our students,” Abinojar said. “Not all of our students are from this community, so I think they really wanted to show this community that they have a commitment.”