The classrooms at Northeast Technology Center’s Kansas Campus were transformed into a mock hospital for a few hours on a Friday afternoon as second grade patients donned hospital gowns and prepared for surgery.
“This is a fun event that gives our nursing students a chance to interact with young patients and do some teaching,” said Practical Nursing instructor Jodi Bell. “The goal of the event is to alleviate the little ones’ apprehension about going to a hospital and also spark their interest in a medical career.”
In the weeks leading up to the event, nursing students from NTC paid a visit to the second grade classrooms at Kansas Elementary. The students and instructors spent time talking to the elementary students about what happens when someone goes to the hospital and what they could expect during their visit to the mock hospital.
“It really offers a nice break from what they do every day,” said Kansas second grade teacher Chaney Bendabout. “We had some that were a little scared, but they warmed up once they got here. Since they are the first class from their school to do it this year, they feel special.”
When students arrived at the “hospital,” their first stop was patient check in where they received a medical folder and ID bracelet. They were also paired up with a “parent” – an NTC Practical Nursing student – who acted as their guide and gave reassurance throughout the process.
“We let them experience a little bit of everything: X-rays, EKG, surgery, recovery and of course, before they leave, they have to pay their bill,” Bell said. “It’s all pretend of course, but it’s great practice for our students.”
Aside from riding in the wheelchairs, one of the favorite stations was the operating room. The surgeons on duty helped the patients on to the operating table where broken arms and legs were fixed, and one creative patient even underwent sinus surgery.
Second grader Aiden Graham was one of the first to rotate through the stations, and he was a little bummed with his make-believe injury.
“I should’ve got stitches,” Graham said. “I got a fractured arm instead.”
Graham, who confessed to already having several sets of stitches in his short lifetime, liked the mock hospital much better than his real-life visits.
“I’ve been to the ER, and they put a needle in my head,” Graham said. “Today was more fun, because it didn’t really happen. It was just pretend.”
For those students who had not had the real life visit to the hospital, the mock hospital gave them an idea of what to expect should they find themselves in need of medical treatment.
“I think it’s good for kids to know what to expect when they go to a hospital,” Bendabout said. “It will make it less scary for them if it really happens.”
After surgery, patients went through post op and recovery before heading to the business office to pay their bill with the play money that was provided. From start to finish, each students’ hospital experience lasted 15-20 minutes.
The mock hospital will be up and running again in April for another round of second grade patients from Kansas Elementary, and Bell is hoping to expand the program to other elementary schools next year.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s really a great experience for all the students, no matter what their age.” Bell said. “It’s fun for both groups because it takes them outside the normal classroom and lets them learn in a different way, outside of just reading a book.”