Monday, December 17, 2012

In the Wake of the Sandy Hook Tragedy...Some Tips for Parents

In wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary school tragedy, I wanted to share some resources with you.  This is taken from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. 

Talking to Children about the Shooting

The recent shooting has evoked many emotions-sadness, grief, helplessness, anxiety, and anger. Schools are supposed to be one of the safe places, where students can go to learn and be with friends. Children who are struggling with their thoughts and feelings about the stories and images of the shooting may turn to trusted adults for help and guidance. Reinforcing safety after this tragedy is important with very young children. They need to hear that their parents/caregivers will do everything they can do keep them safe.  Schools will be working to be sure that their school is a safe place for learning and having fun with friends and classmates. 

  • Start the conversation. Talk about the shooting with your child.  Not talking about it can make the event even more threatening in your child's mind. Silence suggests that what has occurred is too horrible even to speak about or that you do not know what has happened. With social media (e.g.; Facebook, Twitter, text messages, newsbreaks on favorite radio and TV stations, and others), it is highly unlikely that children and teenagers have not heard about this.  Chances are your child has heard about it, too. 
  • What does your child already know? Start by asking what your child/teen already has heard about the events from the media and from friends. Listen carefully; try to figure out what he or she knows or believes. As your  child explains, listen for misinformation, misconceptions, and underlying fears or concerns. Understand that this information will change as more facts about the shooting are known. 
  • Gently correct inaccurate information. If your child/teen has inaccurate information or misconceptions, take time to provide the correct information in a simple, clear, age-appropriate language.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions, and answer questions directly. Your child/teen may have some difficult questions about the incident. For example, she may ask if it is possible that it could happen at their school; she is probably really asking whether it is "likely." The concern about re-occurance will be an issue for caregivers and childrens/teens alike. While it is important to discuss the likelihood of this risk, she is also asking if she is safe. This may be a time to review plans your family has for keeping safe in the event of any crisis situation. Do give any information you have on the help and support of victims and their families are receiving.  Let her know that the person responsible is under arrest and cannot hurt anyone else. Like adults, children/teens are better able to cope with a difficult situation when they have the facts about it. Having question and answer talks gives your child ongoing support as he or she begins to cope with the range of emotions stirred up by this tragedy. 
  • Limit media exposure. Limit your child's exposure to media images and sounds of the shooting, and do not allow very young children to see or hear any TV/radio shooting-related messages.  Even if they appear engrossed in play, children often are aware of what you are watching on TV or listening to on the radio. What may not be upsetting to an adult may be very upsetting and confusing for a child.  Limit your own exposure as well. Adults may become more distressed with nonstop exposure to media coverage of this shooting. If your child has watched coverage, take a minute to turn off the television and ask the child about what they think about what was seen. This also gives an opportunity to discuss the event and gently correct misperceptions. 
  • Common reactions. Childrens/Teens may have reactions to this tragedy.  In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, they may have more problems paying attention and concentrating. They may become more irritable or defiant. Children and even teens may have trouble separating from caregivers, wanting to stay at home or close by them. It's common for young people to feel anxious about what has happened, what may happen in the future, and how it will impact their lives. Their sleep and appetite routines may change. In general, you should see these reactions lessen within a few weeks. 
  • Be a positive role model. Consider sharing your feelings about the shooting with your child/teen, but at a level they can understand. You may express sadness and empathy for the victims and their families. You may share some worry, but it is important to also share ideas for coping with difficult situations like this tragedy. When you speak of the quick response by law enforcement and medical personnel to help the victims, you help your child/teen see that there can be good, even in the midst of such a horrific event. 
  • Be patient. In times of stress, children/teens may have trouble with their behavior, concentration, and attention. While they may not openly ask for your guidance or support, they will want it. Both children teens will need a little extra patience, care and love. (Be patient with yourself too!). 
  • Extra help. Should reactions continue or at any  point interfere with your children's/teens abilities to function or if you are worried, contact local mental health professionals who have expertise in trauma. Contact your family physician, pediatrician, or state mental health associations for referrals to such experts. 

The Missouri Department of Mental Health has offered the following resources:

       Talking to Children about School Shootings: From the American Psychological Association

·         The National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement:  A Parent Guide

·         The National Child Traumatic Stress Network resources for crisis situations:  for schools:

·         Psychological First Aid:  Parent Tips for Helping School Aged Children after Disasters provides information about reactions, responses and examples of things to do and say:

·         The Missouri Department of Mental Health Fact Sheets for Coping for schools, adults and children:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Students Interested in Medical Related Careers...

My daughter wants to be a doctor
St. Joseph Newspress Photo

 If you are a student interested in pursuing a career in the medical field please keep reading.  The Northwest Missouri Area Health Education Center has many resources and programs available to you. 

ACES Program- This program is a comprehensive career planning and assistance program for student who wish to prepare to join the Missouri healthcare workforce.  The ideal ACES candidate is interested in providing healthcare in rural or under served areas of Missouri, is committed to actively preparing for that career and is also interested attending college in Missouri. 2012 graduate Jordan Snook pictured above) was involved with this program.  For more on that go HERE

Northwest Missouri AHEC Pipeline- High school students, college students and adults may register to join the Northwest Missouri AHEC Pipeline.  Through the pipeline, students are invited to attend career exploration workshops and prepare for shadowing opportunities with healthcare professionals.  Those who join can explore careers in nursing, therapy, pharmacy, technologies, surgical careers and many others. Students receive newsletters, invitations and emails about opportunities to explore healthcare careers and education.  Additional one-on-one career planning is available at student request. Register for the pipeline by going HERE

Pipeline Workshops- The Northwest Missouri AHEC offers healthcare career exploration workshops to interested high school, undergraduate and adult students at a variety of locations within the nineteen county region.  Workshop sessions may include presentations by health professionals, representatives from educational institutions and training programs, hands on activities, and basic information on healthcare careers. To access a calendar of programs go HERE.

Shadowing Opportunities
Another way for students to really know about a healthcare career is to spend time observing healthcare professionals on the job. NWMO AHEC staff provides training and assistance for students who want to shadow in a healthcare setting. Students may contact a NWMO AHEC Recruitment Coordinator to learn more about shadowing opportunities in the region.

Building a Portfolio
We designed the Portfolio for Building an Application to Medical School to help students create an impressive health professions school application. This four-year workbook allows students to fill in and save records of progress in course work and the other activities expected of students at these levels.  In addition, we provide information regarding medical school selection, the application process, and financing a medical education.  If you have any questions about using this document or your application to medical school, please contact NWMO AHEC Recruitment Coordinator.

*Info taken from NWMO AHEC website

Monday, December 10, 2012

Career Cafe...Engineering

In October we were fortunate to have Michael Kelly, a retired Power Engineer from Black and Veatch as our guest speaker for Career Cafe. Michael has had some fascinating experiences as an engineer.  For instance, he helped with the privatization of Istanbul's electric system. He's also had clients such as Exxon Mobile, St. Joseph Power and Light, Peabody Coal, and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand.   He has traveled extensively in his career as an engineer.  Mr. Kelly was fascinating to listen to and many students benefited from his knowledge and expertise.  Currently, Mr. Kelly teaches graduate level classes at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Kansas.