Respiratory Care Student Inspires University of Hartford Magnet School Students Living with Asthma
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Respiratory Care Student Inspires University of Hartford Magnet School Students Living with Asthma

Megan Pare leading class. Megan Pare ’18 knows first-hand the challenges associated with living with asthma. She also knows that the when the disease is managed individuals living with asthma can thrive. This knowledge and her own personal experiences with the disease motivated her to share these lessons with children by teaching a class to fourth and fifth grade students diagnosed with asthma at the University of Hartford Magnet School.

Pare, a respiratory care major in the College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, used the American Lung Associations’ Open Airways for School Program, of which she is a trained instructor, to teach students about asthma. She Megan Pare leading class. applied her own research and taught lessons about how to control asthma symptoms, when a child may need to go to the emergency room, and when it is okay to go to school. The curriculum was separated into short lessons to allow the children to retain the information. The students also learned skills such as belly breathing for relaxation and how to properly use their inhalers.

“I am hoping that the time I spent educating the students will change the way the children see their disease,” said Pare. “Often, many people feel inhibited by their asthma, but with the proper preventative care and control medications, they can be Megan Pare leading class. able to lead a normal life.”

The University of Hartford Magnet School administrators were instrumental in allowing Pare to bring this curriculum to the students. She worked closely with School Nurse Margy Clark and Assistant Principal Kenneth Hurd.

Clark said that “Megan Pare’s presentation to our selected fourth and fifth grade diagnosed asthmatic students far exceeded our expectations…the goals were met, but more importantly, Megan challenged the students to really engage in their own health care and develop individual awareness of their asthma patterns.”

Pare recognizes the role her education played in her success leading the program. She notes that lessons in healthcare literacy and patient education skills allowed her to understand how being an educator is important piece of providing medical care. She applied these skills to create the materials she made for the children and to teach each lesson.

Pare’s goal is to work at Maine Medical Center upon graduation, where she was once a patient herself due to complications related to her own asthma and has already been working as a student therapist since December 2016. Now she has experience in patient education that she would have not have otherwise received without this class.

Although teaching the class was great professional experience for Pare, working with the students was personally rewarding. 

“Working with the kids has been the best part of this project by far,” said Pare. “They were so interactive and receptive to me. I really tried to send the message to them that even with this disease, they can do anything they want.”

Clark shared that “Megan truly bonded with these students and her program was joyfully attended.  Her caring and calm approach allowed for exchange of ideas and personal stories in a trusted and fun environment.” 

Support for this work was provided [in part] by The Women’s Advancement Initiative, advancing each woman’s potential in the HCW tradition at the University of Hartford.