School is back in session for Kansas students and teachers. While students across Kansas stocked up on pencils, paper and books, teachers looked for creative ways to stock their classroom with supplies due to steep budget cuts for school districts this year. Peyton Kessler, RN, a health careers instructor at Labette County High School in Altamont, Kan., was able to stock her classroom with free, recycled medical equipment from the University of Kansas Medical Center.
"I am so thankful for the donation. It saved me quite a bit of money that my budget did not have," said Kessler.
The State of Kansas cut the Department of Education budget by $104.5 million for the 2011-2012 school year, resulting in a reduction of $157 per student in state aid. Since the 2008-2009 school year, state aid per pupil has declined by more than 14 percent, forcing school districts to make tough choices including eliminating jobs, reducing transportation services, delaying purchasing capital assets like school busses and equipment, and cutting back on supplies.
The donated medical equipment ensures that Kessler's students have access to supplies they'll need to further their future careers in health care.
"I placed an exam table at the front of the room so I can recreate a health care scenario that all can learn from," Kessler said of the equipment donation. "Seeing a real scenario is hands-on-learning that cements the information into students' minds."
Labette County High School received 21 donated medical equipment items from The University of Kansas Physicians, including two exam tables, several opthalmoscopes, an otoscope and a blood pressure cuff. Purchasing the items new would have cost thousands. Wyandotte High School in Kansas City, Kan. also took advantage of the free medical equipment, as did other teaching entities in the KU School of Medicine and KU School of Nursing. The equipment was replaced when The University of Kansas Physicians moved into their new Medical Office Building adjacent to KU Medical Center, but Mary Meyer, RN, MSN, director of the School of Nursing clinical learning lab, knew it still had some teaching time left.
"A lot of the equipment was dated, but still in fabulous shape," said Meyer, who is also a clinical assistant professor in the KU School of Nursing. "It would have been a shame for the equipment to go to the trash when there are programs in our area that are trying to give students their first step in health professions."The donations were offered to health career teachers across Kansas through the KU Area Health Education Centers. The KU Area Health Education Centers emphasize health career promotion in Kansas, working Kansas kids, teens and teachers. These efforts include summer externships for health career teachers, career fairs for teens, and Mini-Medical School, which are kits for teachers, including Kessler, with activities and presentations by KU Medical Center physicians to enhance health careers curricula.