Event comes together as result of community partnerships
Fifth-graders at Baldwin Heights Elementary School in Greenville operated on “bodies” they made from papier-mâché and Twizzlers, on Thursday, January 20, transforming the school’s gym into a “Mini Medical School.” The Mini Med School concluded a four-week science unit focusing on the human body and its systems.
Surgeons and surgical employees from Spectrum Health United Hospital assisted the students in performing mock surgeries on the replica bodies. Nursing students from Montcalm Community College, parent volunteers and additional teachers also helped.
The fifth-graders were dressed head-to-toe in scrubs, including surgical masks, gloves and shoe shields. Students were divided into groups based on a specialty area—one consisted of cardiologists, one of gastroenterologists, another of neurologists, one of orthopedic surgeons and finally pulmonologists. The groups rotated through six stations, each hosted by a surgeon, surgical professional or nurse.
At five of the stations, groups role-played specific surgeries, each within their specialty area. Each student carried out roles such as lead surgeon, anesthesiologist and surgical assistant. Types of surgeries portrayed were a heart transplant, lung transplant, appendectomy and cerebral aneurysm repair. At the sixth station, the students used a portable heart defibrillator to simulate treating a patient suffering from cardiac arrest.
Mindy Hepinstall, fifth-grade science teacher at Baldwin Heights and originator of the idea for the school, hopes this event can become an annual component of her science unit on the human body. “This has been such a rewarding experience. Not only because the students have learned so much, but because it also exposes them to careers in health care and may spark interest for some to pursue careers in health care.”
Hepinstall also acknowledged the teamwork it took to implement the Mini Med School. “I am grateful to the employees of United Hospital and for all of the support we received from the school board and teachers. Also, I can’t thank the parents of my students enough—many of them have volunteered and donated supplies to make this event a reality,” said Hepinstall.
Spectrum Health United Hospital was equally pleased with the Mini Med School. “We are thrilled to be able to partner with our local schools to help kids understand the importance of good health. Our surgeons and surgical employees enjoyed working with these kids. Seeing their determination and focus was really inspiring for us,” said Adam Post, director, surgical services, Spectrum Health United Hospital.