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Operating Theatre Live Trip

On Saturday the 23rd March 2019 24 students and staff went to Truro for a day called ‘Operating Theatre Live’. It was a fantastically informative and hands-on day for A Level, GCSE and KS3 students alike. Students had the opportunity to look at whole organ systems but also work together as a team, think about patient care, use tools and techniques with precision and work out masses and volumes to produce the correct amount of painkiller for individual patients.

One student summed it up with the following thoughts:  “A very good experience and educational opportunity, which opened our eyes to the world of medicine and the human anatomy. We were able to dissect and look at parts of organ systems that we wouldn’t be able to in college. We also learnt many aseptic techniques and they set the scene very well with the scrubs just as you would have to do in a real surgical setting.”

In the morning session a clinical practitioner drew us into a story of a car crash and the ensuing implications in the emergency room of not only dealing with broken limbs, but also the importance of patient care. Donned in full PPE of mask, hair net and a blue ‘scrubs’ top, students were then assigned a patient and they had to deal with working as part of a team to clean them down before surgery. The lecturer talked through why this was necessary to keep microbes from entering the body which could cause infections such as MRSA. Students were then tasked with preparing an analgesic for their patients, using equipment that they would meet in a clinical setting. It was an excellent application task to use their maths skills; working out exactly how much of the painkiller to use, producing a 10% solution and then injecting it through a cannula (into a dummy).

Moving on from preparing pain relief, anaesthetists and the key role of anaesthetists around the hospital, students were told about various body systems, ending in the nervous system. This gave students an opportunity in small groups, to remove and observe structures in a pig’s brain, and the eyeballs, focusing on the 6 muscles keeping enabling it to move in the socket. Launceston College students were particularly mature in response to the messages about the ethical use and treatment of animal parts for the educational purposes of looking at anatomy.

Useful for all key stages, the day then progressed to looking at the respiratory and circulatory system, but bringing it back to processes carried out in the operating theatre. For example, students located the trachea and used equipment to intubate the airway, as they would in a clinical setting. After this there was an opportunity to dissect the lungs and heart, locating key features of the heart such as the heart strings and the aorta. Students worked really well together in groups made up from different schools and were able to back this anatomy up with a lecture on how a heart beats and how anomalies can be shown on electrocardiograms (ECGs).

A brief session was carried out on the UCAT exams for those who particularly wanted to go into medicine as a career and finally we were talked through an intact digestive system from an animal which gave students the opportunity to see and feel the size, shape, colour, texture and smell (!) of the different organs.

Many thanks to Truro High School for Girls for hosting us and the ITAE group for delivering the event. Also thanks to Mr Chapman, Miss Jessop and Miss Marshall for helping to drive and supervise the outstanding students that attended.