Kids teach medical students

Delaware County Girl Scouts recently helped students at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine learn how to more effectively communicate with their pediatric patients.

About a dozen scouts from Troop 57119 in Haverford Township acted as “standardized patients” — people trained to play the role of patients — said Renee Cree, spokesperson for the college. The idea of having children in the role, which is fairly unusual, was the brainchild of PCOM faculty member Erik Langenau.

The girls, ages 10 to 12, were given a “crash course” in what to expect from their appointment, and each was assigned a symptom, like a stomachache or trouble breathing. The PCOM students then examined and interviewed them.

The exercise gave students an opportunity to practice interpersonal and communication skills with pediatric patients, who are often afraid of the doctor’s office, said Cree. The scouts also benefited from the experience, she added, learning what to ask of doctors when dealing with their own health.

Passing down a piece of history

During World War II, Delaware County native Master Sgt. Clifford Trumbo parachuted into Amsterdam with the 82nd Airborne Division, as part of Operation Market Garden, an effort to secure the key bridges over three rivers in the Netherlands. The liberated villagers gave each soldier a carved wooden shoe as a memento with “Holland” and "1944″ etched into the wood to show their gratitude.

Seventy-five years later, students at Sacred Heart School in Manoa, Haverford Township, held Trumbo’s shoe as part of a journalism workshop on Veterans Day, taught by Hannah Dougherty Campbell.

The 17 eighth graders then took on the identity of villagers from 1944 — farmers, students, mothers — and wrote essays to thank the soldiers, said Campbell.

“I was a student at the time and I was terrified about what was happening,” student Katrina Dominski wrote. “You freed us from a life of solitude, fear, and risk of death. Thank you for what you have done for us.”

Giving thanks together

Students at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College prepared a full Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings for patients and families who were staying at the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House, where guests wait for or recover from an organ transplant.

The facility celebrated the holiday in the past with either a potluck or a catered meal, said Kirsten King, director of the 13-room guesthouse, located on 3940 Spruce St. In addition to doing all the cooking this year, the students sat with the guests to help celebrate, she said.

“They have been really enthusiastic collaborators,” said King. Residents of the Transplant House have been known to stay for as long as eight months during recovery, she said. So the homemade meal, which was funded with grants from Penn Medicine and the Transplant Institute, means a lot to them.

Added King, “We even asked them to make extra,” so that leftovers could be served on another night.