PLAIN CITY -- Students from 30 high schools throughout the state recently spent two hours in the operating room. In a virtual manner of speaking, that is.
The Virtual Healthcare Interactive live broadcast, in partnership with Intermountain Healthcare and the Utah State Office of Education, made it possible for the students, all interested in the medical field, to watch two surgical knee procedures.
The first procedure was an ACL repair. The second was a total knee replacement.
Both were performed by Intermountain Healthcare orthopedic surgeon Dr. Nathan Momberger. Students in the Weber School District watched the broadcast from Fremont High School. Those from the Ogden School District watched it from Ogden High School.
During and after the procedure, students were allowed to chat live with members of the surgical team.
"I think it's really cool to be able to see what I'm going to be doing one day," said Bonneville High School senior Wilson Atagi, who wants to be an orthopedic surgeon one day. "The body has always been interesting to me, and I want to help people. I really want to help athletes because I'm an athlete myself."
Roy High School junior Jacob Bingham also wants to be an orthopedic surgeon.
"I plan on doing orthopedic surgery, so this is very interesting to me," he said. "I dislocated my hip playing football, but I've never had surgery. This is pretty exciting to be able to watch it live."
Ashlee Taylor, a Roy High School senior, said she wants to be an athletic trainer.
"I think this will just solidify what I want to do," she said. "It will help me see what I'm getting into. I think it's a great opportunity."
With increased confidentiality concerns, work-based learning experiences have decreased in the healthcare area over the past few years, according to USOE. Engaging students through technology allows hospitals to bring more students into their environment with limited liability exposure and minimal interruption to the hospital.
"Because of HIPAA and other hospital regulations, it is very hard for students to do job shadows and internships in a hospital setting," said USOE health science education specialist Tara Bell. "With Virtual Healthcare Interactive, students not only learn about the different careers involved in patient care, they get to virtually step into an operating room."
Health care is one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the nation, employing more than 18 million workers in more than 200 careers, according to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. By 2020, the U.S. will be in need of 5.6 million more health care workers.
During the operation, students asked about the patient's blood pressure, new tendons and recovery time. When the first incision was made, a few students got a little squeamish, but no one had to leave the room.
"This really gives kids a great opportunity to take what they learn in the classroom and see it in action," said Kelly Harlan, Fremont High School exercise, science and sports medicine teacher. "Everyone in here today wants to work with athletes one day in some fashion."