Med students teach dangers of smoking

Katie Oman (left)

Katie Oman (left)


Two third-year medical students are making a difference in the community – one elementary student at a time.

University of Alberta medical students Kate Oman and Jen She have only been working in the community for 6 months, but have managed to turn a few heads and help elementary school students make tough choices about smoking.

The pair is part of the Integrated Community Clerkship (ICC), a program designed to attract young doctors to rural areas.

“New doctors are more likely to come to small towns only if they lived in a small town before,” said Oman.

The two students have been working hard on an anti-smoking initiative for elementary schools in the area, targeting grades 5-7 and showing them the true effects of smoking.

The duo taught at St. Augustine, Ponoka Elementary and Diamond Willow Middle School, getting through to about 217 in 32 hours

“The kids loved it, it was hands on and they learned about the effects of smoking on all parts of the body,” said Sharon Hackett, a teacher at St. Augustine School.

In addition to the education provided, Oman and She set up a poster contest for the students for which prizes were awarded.

The prizes were donated from businesses around the community and the Family Health Clinic where they are currently residents.

Dr. Robert Halse, a partner at the Clinic is appreciative of the students’ efforts with the community.

“The girls were able to get their act together and get this done,” said Halse. “Education for younger people is important,” he added.

Both the students and Halse believe that exposure to younger generations is important to smoking prevention and they plan on continuing the project with the next pair that arrives next September.

“We definitely want it back next year!” said Hackett. “Grade six is a pivotal year for students and their decision making.”

Although the two students will be leaving the clinic soon, the next pair of students to join Halse and the Family Medical Clinic will be encouraged to continue this program.