The Dome Experience


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GWCS Anatomy & Physiology students had the unique opportunity to witness a live open-heart surgery as part of “The Dome Experience,” an educational program offered by the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute at the Inova Fairfax Medical Campus.

The students arrived at the Inova Medical Campus early, where they began the day with a healthy-heart pre-test as well as a lesson from the surgical nurse on healthy lifestyle choices that can help you avoid heart surgery. Then the heart surgeon arrived to explain how the day’s scheduled surgery was going to be performed.

Next, GWCS students entered the Dome, named as such for its location above the operating room and for its central windows which provide a view of the surgery a mere ten feet below. The surgical nurse remained in the Dome with the students over the course of the four-hour procedure to explain the surgery and answer questions (and there were a lot of questions!). She had with her a model of the human heart and surgical tools, all of which she encouraged the students to examine.  The surgeon continued to play the role of educator, too, pausing to reinforce points he made before the surgery, and even holding up a layer of fat that he removed from the patient’s heart for the students to see.

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Charlie, GWCS class of ’19, remarked, “When the heart stopped beating, it was so strange, yet interesting, how [the patient] was still alive due to the fact that he was hooked up to machines.” Elizabeth, another Junior, added that it was “fascinating how many people help out in the surgery.” For Sophomore Emma Grace, to see a heart stop and get revived was “definitely one of the coolest medical experiences one could witness.”

The day ended with a post-test for the students. The nurse and the surgeon again emphasized the importance of healthy lifestyles and good nutrition. Notably, the surgeon was vehement that the students should cut soda from their diets, since the sugar in soda creates fatty tissue which leads to heart problems. In all, the day was a roaring success that had students excited and talking for weeks afterward!

GW Community School
The Dome Experience
Anatomy & Physiology Class Trip
Ms. Kohler, Science Teacher
October 15, 2018