What's Next, First Grade MCATs?

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Wearing surgical gowns, the students looked serious as they contemplated their class rotations:  the skeleton, the heart, surgery, hand-washing. But the surgery was fake, the classes were fifteen minutes long, the gowns were pint-sized. . . and the students were about five years old.

Nearly 400 kindergarten students from towns around Lebanon, Oregon, participated earlier this year in the fourth annual mini-medical school, taught by real first-year med students from the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Northwest (COMP-Northwest). “It’s about paying it forward,” said John Pham, DO, vice chair and assistant professor of family medicine at COMP-Northwest. “Maybe someday, years from now, one or two of these kids will want to become doctors in part because they remembered the mini-medical school.”

So how do you teach surgery to kindergarteners? It’s kind of ingenious, actually. The “patient” puts on an apron that has felt organs stuck to it. Then a mock anesthesia mask goes over the patient’s mouth and nose, and once she’s asleep the young surgeons-in-training simply pluck the organs off the apron while learning about what each of those organs does.

If only it were that easy...

Thinkstock

Wearing surgical gowns, the students looked serious as they contemplated their class rotations:  the skeleton, the heart, surgery, hand-washing. But the surgery was fake, the classes were fifteen minutes long, the gowns were pint-sized. . . and the students were about five years old.

Nearly 400 kindergarten students from towns around Lebanon, Oregon, participated earlier this year in the fourth annual mini-medical school, taught by real first-year med students from the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Northwest (COMP-Northwest). “It’s about paying it forward,” said John Pham, DO, vice chair and assistant professor of family medicine at COMP-Northwest. “Maybe someday, years from now, one or two of these kids will want to become doctors in part because they remembered the mini-medical school.”

So how do you teach surgery to kindergarteners? It’s kind of ingenious, actually. The “patient” puts on an apron that has felt organs stuck to it. Then a mock anesthesia mask goes over the patient’s mouth and nose, and once she’s asleep the young surgeons-in-training simply pluck the organs off the apron while learning about what each of those organs does.

If only it were that easy...