By Meredith Rose
Eight students from Fellowship Academy in Kennedale, TX, visited the Bluebonnet Surgery Pavilion in Waxahachie last month to gain exposure to surgery and enhance their understanding of the medical field.
The students who participated are enrolled in Fellowship’s Health Science track, part of the Public Service endorsement which is a set of course work geared toward students interested in pursuing a variety of careers in public service, including jobs in the medical field.
“This trip was the first of its kind for Fellowship and intensely unique compared to similar programs at much bigger high schools in the Kennedale area,” said David Slight, Science Department Chair and director of the Health Science Endorsement. “Our time granted at Bluebonnet was an unprecedented experience.”
The students spent a full day at the surgical center and were granted access to the pre-op room, operating room, post-op room, decontamination and sterilization room and physical therapy room. They observed all six surgeries on the schedule for the day, interacting with the surgeon, licensed surgical assistant (LSA), nurse anesthesiologist, physical therapist and patients.
One senior student, Lacey, said of the trip, “My experience at Bluebonnet was not mere observation… It was incredibly engaging and interactive. I was able to see an ACL patient from pre-op to post-op, and even spoke with her. I feel that this start-to-finish experience gave me a genuine and complete picture of surgical experience for both the patient and practitioners.”
This comprehensive access allowed students to witness and learn about many facets of surgical procedures, including postoperative pain mitigation, anesthesiology, operation, instrument sterilization processes and rehabilitation techniques.
During each operation, students shadowed board certified Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Robert Roye, who explained his work and questioned students’ understanding of the procedure. Students also learned about surgical instruments and nuances from LSA Rico Dominguez.
“Being in the operating room was seemingly an open ‘out of body experience,’” said one student, Adycin, the only junior to visit the center. “It locked my passion for a surgical career and was truly a great learning experience for all involved. My lessons came to life, sparking an even greater interest in medicine.”
While most of the students who participated in the trip are interested in careers as doctors or nurses, one student, Daniel, has a unique passion for engineering and technology. He gained valuable insight into how he could apply these skills in the medical field.
“This trip opened my eyes to the mechanical aspect of surgeries and how fascinating technology’s role in surgeries is. I wasn’t thinking of entering the medical field, but I’m definitely a tech nut of sorts so this part of surgeries resonated with me,” he said. “Viewing a procedure being done in person opens a whole new perspective on how we’re able to accomplish something like this.”
In preparation for Fellowship’s visit, Bluebonnet Surgery Center maintained strict adherence to HIPPA guidelines and received written permission from all patients who were observed during their procedures.
“Our staff all worked very hard to make this a successful experience,” said Melinda Miller, DNP, CRNA and owner of Bluebonnet Surgery Pavilion. “The students were well-mannered and asked good questions. I hope this excited some of them about all the possible careers in the medical field.”
This trip was made possible through Slight’s connections at Bluebonnet Surgery Pavilion and the generosity of all staff. Slight is a former LSA and held credentials before returning to the classroom to teach these skills to high school students.
“I am intensely grateful for Melinda Miller, as well as Dr. Roye and Rico Dominguez, plus all of the auxiliary staff and office personnel who granted us total access to the facilities,” said Slight. “It is my goal to open doors at other hospitals and surgical centers for future trips like this one.”
In the years to come, Fellowship also hopes to place students that are enrolled in the Health Science track and taking a medical Practicum course as interns at local hospitals and surgical centers. These internships will be reserved for students in their senior year.