School News: Going into the Operating Room

by: Lisa Peck, Upper School Science Teacher
When Lisa Peck, Upper School science faculty at Shorecrest Preparatory School (FL), had abdominal surgery a few years ago, she didn’t know it would transform what and how she taught.

The day after surgery, Peck’s doctor saw her correcting anatomy tests in her hospital room. “He said he wished he would have known I taught anatomy because he would have videotaped my surgery,” Peck says. “He asked me if I thought my students would like to go into the operating room (OR) and observe him performing surgeries.”

Peck, who had mostly been using teacher-directed lessons, jumped at the opportunity. After posting photos and articles about her 20 OR-observing students in the school’s online newsletter, two parents who are surgeons also offered their ORs to Peck’s students.

“From there, I went to our advancement office and got a spreadsheet of all Shorecrest parents who were involved in the health care fields,” says Peck, who also is the director of the school’s Center for Medical Sciences, which opened in 2017–2018. “I began to cold call and email these parents, asking them to come speak to my students and to see if they were interested in creating opportunities for high school student observers.”

Today, Peck’s 11th- and 12th-grade Anatomy, Physiology, and Introduction to Medical Sciences classes have about 40 students, two to three who tour medical facilities and view surgeries at local hospitals and surgery centers each week. They have observed mastectomies, laparoscopic hernia repairs, colon cancer removals, pediatric heart surgery, reconstructive hand surgery, amputations, and C-sections, to name a few. They then present in class what they learned.

Doctors, along with other medical professionals, also come speak to her classes at school. “We Skyped with a robotic engineer whose company makes exoskeletons for paraplegics,” Peck says. “I am having a da Vinci surgical robot brought to Shorecrest so my students and the robotics students, as well as parents and grandparents, can learn about this amazing technology.”

Students in the second-year course Intro to Medical Sciences delve deeper into the body systems. For example, students recently created a PSA video about hypertension that is shown in The Center for Medical Sciences’ Heart Healthy Clinic, which is open to the community on Fridays. As part of this hypertension unit, students read a case study, conducted research, and viewed Coursera videos from a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

“We have families who choose Shorecrest because their children want to pursue a career in medicine,” Peck says. “People walk into The Center for Medical Sciences and are excited to hear about our program.”

Original story on NAIS: https://www.nais.org/magazine/independent-school/summer-2019/school-news-going-into-the-operating-room/

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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.