Learning “Carve”: PRC students learn surgical procedures

Published 7:00 am Saturday, October 31, 2015

The health and science students from Pearl River Central High School and the health professionals who showed them surgical technique.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

The health and science students from Pearl River Central High School and the health professionals who showed them surgical technique.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

Thursday, juniors and seniors from Pearl River Central High School experienced firsthand the inner workings of an operating room at Highland Community Hospital where they performed a pumpkinectomy, a surgical procedure on a pumpkin.
The students are members of the school’s health and science program taught by RN Jennifer Spence.
The class is open to those interested in the healthcare field, Spence said. The first year of the two-year program is spent in the classroom, where students learn about anatomy, physiology, diseases, infection control, CPR and how to put on personal protective equipment.
During the second year, seniors job shadow medical professionals at Highland Hospital once a week, Spence said.
“They have shadowed radiology, X-ray, the emergency room, the intensive care unit, pharmacy and labor and delivery,” Spence said. “The hospital has been really good at opening their doors to our students. They are investing in the future of healthcare.”
Pearl River Central School District Career and Technical Education Director Kelli Beech said the hospital provides a wonderful experience for the health and science students to learn more about the medical field.
“We are very fortunate to have a partnership with Highland Community Hospital,” Beech said. “They go above and beyond providing our students with various educational opportunities.”
Spence said the program saves future medical students time and money because they are exposed to many career paths and won’t choose one blindly.
Students visited the surgical unit at Highland and shadowed a surgeon, a certified registered nurse anesthetist, two RNs and two surgical technicians.
The patient had a pumpkin head and a pillow body and the students were exposed to the different tasks each health professional performs during a surgical procedure.
Highland Community Hospital Director of Surgery and Outpatient Services Brad Burge said this program gives the students a good opportunity to see the inner workings of the surgical department.
“It’s very important to the future of the medical field,” Burge said. “We always need staff and these students will be able to make a better informed decision about their careers.”
During their visit, the students learned pre-operating procedures and once they donned gowns, shoe covers, hats and masks, they headed to the operating room. Nurses taught the students how to properly clean their arms and hands before entering the operating room.
Once inside and properly sterilized, the patient was brought in and CRNA Todd Lane demonstrated how he puts patients to sleep.
After the patient was asleep, Ob/Gyn Cynthia Jean-Pierre demonstrated surgical techniques while carving the eyes and mouth of the pumpkin.
Surgical technicians Kim Haden and Donna Lee also demonstrated their role during operations as well as RNs Sharon Tortorich and Penny West.
After surgery, Lane described the procedures he follows to safely wake the patient before he or she is brought to the recovery room.
Senior Ashley Russell wants to first be a nurse then later a radiologist. She described the pumpkinectomy as amazing and an experience she wouldn’t forget.
“I learned about the responsibilities of each occupation during a surgery,” Russell said. “This program is an experience that gives you a glimpse into your future and how to choose which role you want to play in the medical field. In my opinion, the value of a human life is the most important thing in the world, and I want to take care of those lives. I would like to invite others to join this program. It’s super important to your future.”
Senior Johnathan Kennedy plans to be a physical therapist, radiologist or a radiologist technician. He said he learned how important each healthcare professional’s role is to surgery.
Ever since she was a small child, senior Kayla Stein has wanted to help people and animals. When she joined this program, she realized there were more career options in the medical field.
“There’s a lot more to the medical field than what you see on television,” Stein said. “Today I learned how to scrub in and cauterize blood. For anyone going to high school, they need to take this program.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox