Anatomy Class Trip Makes Lessons "More Meaningful"

Brooks School's Anatomy and Physiology students got a special opportunity to step out of the classroom and into the operating room on Thursday, when they visited orthopedic surgeries at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

"Seeing surgery really makes what they are learning in the classroom more meaningful because they see that they can apply their classroom learning to a real-life situation," said science teacher Laura Hajdukiewicz P '15, P'17, P'19. "I send them to see surgeries that will reinforce the learning that has already taken place in class."

One group witnessed a knee replacement, while another saw a total hip replacement during the visit, facilitated by Peter Dunn '82, P'11, P'13, P'15, P'18, Vice President, Perioperative Services and Healthcare Systems Engineering at MGH. "I want people to love science and healthcare," the doctor -- who also helps organize the Students on the Forefront of Science internships at MGH -- has said, "[and] I want to give them exposure to what that really means; what that's really like."

Visit Students on the Forefront of Science to learn more about the summer internship program.

And real-world exposure is definitely what the Anatomy and Physiology class got last week. "They were impressed by the team aspect of surgery; that everyone has an important role to ensure patient safety," said Hajdukiewicz. "The students were also surprised that it is not like what they see on TV. It's not a high-stress, dramatic environment. Doctors and nurses are chatting and even listening to music as they work."

Anatomy and Physiology students (shown above and below) spent their class time on Monday dissecting a sheep brain.

As the semester progresses, Hajdukiewicz said groups of her students will also see neurosurgery and open-heart surgery, after those units are covered in class.

The visits are a practice that the teacher has integrated into her curriculum for the past seven years. "Students can elect to go, and about 70 percent of them will see surgery by the end of the year," Hajdukiewicz estimates.

Even those not aspiring for a career in medicine can benefit from the exposure. "Students who are not thinking of going into medicine still find the experience worthwhile," she said, "as it gives them a better idea of their own bodies and makes them think more about health and wellness."

To learn about the curriculum at Brooks and opportunities for students to become determined problem solvers, creative thinkers, language lovers, art appreciators and life-long learners, visit Academics Overview.

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