Upper School students viewed an open-heart surgery at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) as part of their anatomy class on January 17. The class sat in a viewing area above the operating room and peered through a glass window to watch the AGH team in action as surgeons performed a thoracotomy, an operation that corrects an aortic coarctation.
During the surgery, the surgeon wore a head camera that projected live onto a TV screen in the observation deck, and a staff member joined the students to walk them through what was taking place right before their eyes. Students were also visited by Dr. Burkholder, a retired surgeon, who supports the Allegheny General Hospital’s Cardiovascular Institute through the Burkholder Foundation. He shared stories about his experiences in cardiovascular surgery and explained to students the evolution of pacemakers and valves used in the operating room.
This real-world application of their anatomy studies gave students a meaningful understanding of the human body, while also exposing them to a variety of potential professions within the field of medicine. Students had the chance to see not only doctors and surgeons in action, but nurses, surgery techs, physician assistants, and anesthesiologists. Whether or not they’re interested in pursuing medicine as a career, this firsthand experience helps to bridge the gap between learning about anatomy in a textbook and applying it to real life.