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PRC students get first hand look at Highland surgical procedures

POST-OP: PRC students wheel their pumpkin patient to recovery. Photo by Dart Spiers

POST-OP: PRC students wheel their pumpkin patient to recovery.
Photo by Dart Spiers


Pearl River Central High School students received hands-on surgery experience through the Health Sciences program at Highland Community Hospital on Wednesday when they assisted Dr. Alfred Johnson in a “pumpkin-ectomy.”
Students used a pumpkin and other materials to construct a surgical dummy, which they brought to the hospital ready for all the steps of a mock surgery, including pre-op, anesthesia and recovery.
The experience is part of the Health Sciences program, which allows students at PRC interested in the medical field to get a first-hand glimpse at what could be their future career.
Health Science Instructor at PRC and Registered Nurse Jennifer Spence said that allowing students to observe medical professionals and participate in clinical rotations is a valuable learning experience for the young adults hoping to work in healthcare.
“The hospital has been great about opening its doors to all areas for the students,” said Spence.
In this one exercise, students had a chance to observe a surgeon, a nurse anesthetist, surgical techs and registered nurses. They wore proper surgical attire – including masks, gowns, gloves and scrubs – during their time in the operating room.
“I want to be a surgeon, so it was great working with Dr. Johnson,” student Madeline Matute said, “I can put a pumpkin surgery on my resume now.”
“This program helps students make career decisions,” said PRC Career and Technical Education Director Kelli Beech, “giving them this experience now could help them save time and money in college.”
PUMPKIN-ECTOMY: Dr. Alfred Johnson and students with the Health Science program at PRC use a slightly different set of surgical tools for this exercise. Photo by Dart Spiers

PUMPKIN-ECTOMY: Dr. Alfred Johnson and students with the Health Science program at PRC use a slightly different set of surgical tools for this exercise.
Photo by Dart Spiers


Director of Surgical Services Kim Varnado said the hospital has built a good relationship with the students throughout their time at Highland and believes the program offers a great glimpse of the healthcare profession. She added that this was the first pumpkin surgery they have done, but since the students already had employee health clearance, the hospital had no problem letting them in the operating room and providing the experience.
“We are so thankful to Highland for being so open and allowing us to bring our students here,” said Beech.
VALUABLE EXPERIENCE: Students pose for a picture in their surgical attire in the operating room at Highland Community Hospital. Photo by Dart Spiers

VALUABLE EXPERIENCE: Students pose for a picture in their surgical attire in the operating room at Highland Community Hospital.
Photo by Dart Spiers