Med students perform free health exams for nearly 200 urban core elementary students

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- About 200 urban core elementary students are getting free health exams Friday as part of a unique program at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences.

The school says the program provides a win-win experience for everyone involved.

Health screenings offer some real world hands-on training for medical students, many of whom are performing check-ups on someone they don't know for the first time.

270 second year medical students at the university are providing the head-to-toe physical assessments on kids from Scuola Vita Nova charter elementary school.

The doctors-in-training learn how to develop a bedside manner and gain trust by putting their young patients at ease.

"Some questions may work for some people and not for other people," said Stephanie Myer, a second year medical student from Branson, Mo. "The way you talk, some may work for one group and not another group. It will be interesting to see what works and what does not."

Some of the elementary kids may not see a doctor regularly, and the screenings sometimes can discover a health issue they did not know about.

"We’re getting to that point where we are qualified to catch some things," said Tom Katzfey, a second year medical student from Wisconsin. "If sometimes kids aren’t getting in to see the doc regularly, absolutely we’ve been able to find some health issues along the way, then we pass them on to their appropriate providers and get it fixed."

The Score 1 for Health program has been a difference maker for the 13,000 children it serves. Just last year a medical student detected a thyroid issue in one girl that turned out to be a benign tumor.

"What happened afterwards is that she started thriving," said Annette Campbell, director of Score 1 for Health. "She had been very tired all the time, not being very attentive in school. And her teachers, the principal, the school nurse, called us and just thanked us over and over because they recognize the difference that she was experiencing."

Campbell says the program even has sparked an interest among young schoolchildren in pursuing medicine as a career.

This is the first of at least half a dozen free screenings the medical students will perform at 43 elementary schools across the city. By the end of the school year, the university says many will become polished professionals in providing physicals.