Faculty and staff brought their children to the lab, giving students a chance to practise health and physical assessments on kids from 12 months to 11 years old.

Although skills are normally practiced with standardized patients – actors who play the part of patients in specific scenarios – this is not possible with very young children. Being able to rely on ISoN parents who bring their children to the lab is a plus, allowing for more authentic, unpredictable reactions and emotions. In the process, students develop their creativity, adaptability, and empathy – all crucial skills for effective nursing practice.

Students began the week by playing with the children, who ranged in age from 12 months to 11 years old. Later, they were able to practice taking health histories and doing complete physical exams appropriate to each child’s developmental age. This was done under the watchful eyes of facilitators who provided feedback at a debriefing session at the end of the lab. By the end of the week, a total of 18 children as well as 275 students had participated. One family even travelled from Ottawa for the occasion!

Two nursing students chat with three siblings, children brought to the lab by their mother so that students can practice their health assessment skills.

Piloted in 2019 and reintroduced last year after the threat of COVID had receded, Children’s Week is an important part of the lab’s pedagogy, says Faculty Lecturer and lab educator Allyssa Zeagman. She observed that while some of the students were initially apprehensive about having to interact with children, in the end they described their experience as overwhelmingly positive. “All learned a lot throughout the interactions and were grateful for the opportunity to assess the children.”

Cristina Goffredo, Administrative Assistant to the Clinical Partnerships Office Director, reports that her four-year-old daughter was nervous at the sight of the realistic lab setting with its beds, exam rooms and equipment. “She believed she was actually going to see the doctor, which was a daunting prospect for her as a COVID baby who is particularly fearful of clinical environments. However, the students did an exceptional job of making her feel safe. Within a few minutes, everyone was enjoying themselves, and the students were able to complete their assessment.”

The last word belongs to the children who told their parents:

“I loved coming to work with you, Mommy, and teaching your students.”

“When can I come back again – that was fun!”

“I want to do this when I grow up.”

” I went to Mommy’s big school today and helped!”

Four students learn about a baby's medical history from her mother, a faculty lecturer in the lab at the Ingram School of Nursing.

Two nursing students chat with two sisters as they colour pictures in a colouring book.

To see more photos, please visit our Facebook page.