Greenville elementary students attend medical school

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 11:24 am on Monday, January 16, 2012

After the fifth graders were done performing their mock surgeries, they gathered to get a brief study on how to perform CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED). — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

GREENVILLE — Fifth graders from Baldwin Heights and Lincoln Heights elementary schools got to cut open chest cavities, remove gallbladders and give patients stitches Thursday.

Greenville Public Schools and Spectrum Health United Hospital collaborated on the second mini medical school event at Baldwin Heights Elementary School. Fifth-grade students learned about professions in the health care field.

“It’s important for (the hospital) to be involved with schools,” said Jennifer DenOuden, the hospital’s director of marketing and communications. “There is a value in partnering schools with hospitals.”

Eric Nelson, director of surgical services at Spectrum Health United Hospital, coached Taylor Amos, 10, on how to take out a gallbladder during the mini medical school on Thursday at Baldwin Heights Elementary School.

Mini medical school

The mini medical school is about four weeks long. Students built replica body frames and used common materials to build organs while learning about each one.

The course ended with a surgical staff member coaching students during a mock surgery on the replica bodies.

Baldwin Heights fifth grader Taylor Amos, 10, enjoyed the mini medical school, but was happy it was not the real thing.

“I got to cut into the body and pull out a gallbladder,” she said. “It was my first time.”

Students were divided into groups to perform heart and lung transplants, appendectomies and cerebral aneurysm repairs.

DenOuden said the students got to scrub in alongside the surgeons to give them an even greater perspective on careers in health care during the mock surgeries.

Students used real surgical tools from the hospital.

Second annual

Mindy Hepinstall, a fifth-grade teacher at Baldwin Heights Elementary, received positive feedback during the first mini medical school last year and wanted to expand it this year.

The course expanded from two classes last year to nine this year.

Baldwin Height and Lincoln Heights elementary schools participated in the mini medical school on Thursday. Walnut Hills Elementary School will host the mini medical school on Thursday.

“I feel so blessed to live and work in a community so supportive of our schools and students,” Hepinstall said.

Because Lincoln Heights was part of the school district’s Mobile One to One grant, the students used handheld computer devices to give presentations to students at Baldwin Heights about the patients in the mini medical school, Hepinstall said.

While one group of students performed the mock surgeries, the other group was getting a presentation on blood types, why the patients needed the surgeries they received and what the patients could expect during recovery. The two groups then switched to have them experience both items.

Spectrum Health United Hospital Director of Surgical Services Eric Nelson had students use real surgical tools during the mock surgeries while taking out a gallbladder during the mini medical school at Baldwin Heights Elementary School on Thursday. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

Lots of interest

Eric Nelson, director of surgery for the hospital, has coordinated the hospital’s involvement in the course, recruiting surgical staff and preparing for the event to make it as realistic for the students as possible.

“Spectrum Health puts a large emphasis in community involvement,” Nelson said.
Through the mini medical school he hopes to show students about the health care field and what they can do. He said there is a huge demand for careers in health care, such as nurses, in which he hopes students will be interested.

Nelson said the students take the mini medical school very seriously.
“They act as though it’s real,” he said.

Cole Caswell, 11, a fifth grader at Baldwin Heights, thought the mini medical school was a great idea. He had the opportunity to take a specimen from one of the patients to send in to get tested.
“It was pretty hard to get out,” he said.

Greenville Board of Education President Janet Ralph came to Baldwin Heights Elementary to see the excitement on Thursday.

“It’s a great learning experience,” Ralph said.

Hepinstall said she hopes the program will grow even more next year to include Cedar Crest Elementary School students.

Fifth graders from Baldwin Heights, Lincoln Heights and Walnut Hills elementary schools made bodies on which to do mock surgeries for the mini medical school that took place on Thursday at Baldwin Heights Elementary School. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

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