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Health class students perform pumpkinectomy

A pumpkin was carved with surgical precision within Highland Community Hospital’s surgical department as part of a hands-on experience for students of Pearl River Central High School’s health science class.

During the one of a kind experience, Highland’s newest surgeon, Dr. German Almonte, donated a portion of his day to teach the students about the various roles staff in a surgical department play.

Health Science teacher Jennifer Spence, RN, said that this was the fourth year that students in her class got a chance to carve a pumpkin in the local hospital’s surgery room.

During the procedure, which they call a “pumpkinectomy,” students in her class are assigned one of several roles  that staff at the hospital fill during a surgical procedure. From the anesthesiologist, surgery technician, RN circulator, to the pre and post operation nurses, and the surgeon, students took their turns ensuring that all procedures were followed before the “patient” was turned into a jack-o-lantern.

Spence said that prior to Wednesday’s “surgery” one of her students planned to seek a career in sports  medicine, but afterwards that student is considering a career as an anesthesiologist.

And those are the stories she likes to hear. By assigning the students a research project prior to the “surgery,” each student got a chance to find out about the hours, pay and education involved to reach their career goal after high school.

“When they step out of high school and go into college, they will have a better idea of what to pursue,” Spence said.

Two of her previous students are now enjoying a career in the medical field, in part due to the experience they had while in her class, Spence said.

Spence said she is grateful to the staff at Highland Community Hospital and to Dr. Almonte for allowing the students to receive that unique experience.