Front row seat to heart surgery

DMU students demonstrate ultrasound technology to high schoolers at Live from the Heart.Area high school students celebrated heart month at Des Moines University with a “front row” seat to a cardiac surgery as part of an event that connected their coursework in anatomy and health careers to real-life applications.

“We receive many requests from educators interested in helping their high school students explore Des Moines University, and we envisioned this February cardiac surgery screening as a signature event that can not only showcase our expertise, but bring together community partners that share a goal of encouraging the next generation of healthcare professionals,” says Brianne Sanchez, community relations manager at Des Moines University.

Cardiologist Dr. Craig Clark, D.O., associate professor in the DMU Internal Medicine department provided a play-by-play of a bypass surgery as it appeared on the big screen. Nearly 200 students and educators followed along in “investigation journals” that detailed the procedure and the roles that various members of the surgical team play in the operating room.

Students practiced chest compression techniques at an interactive station provided by the American Heart Association. Following the screening, the students participated in campus tours including the anatomy and Sim labs and a number of interactive stations where they:

  • Listened to heart sounds on a “Harvey” cardiopulmonary patient simulator with cardiologist Dr. Clark
  • Identified their blood type with LifeServe Blood Center
  • Practiced chest compression techniques with the American Heart Association
  • Tried their hand at intubation methods with Dr. Teresa Aoki
  • Saw cardiac ultrasound with Dr. Tabassum Taqi and student volunteers
  • Learned how to use an AED with a demonstration by the DMU Emergency Medicine Club
  • Met Des Moines-based health innovators from Athena GTX patient monitoring devices
  • Heard a patient testimonial from someone who lives with a ventricular assist device (VAD) and has undergone heart surgery

A heart patient describes what life is like with a ventricular assist device. Student participants marveled at how observing anatomy in a surgical situation is much more difficult to identify than the diagrams in their books, and how coordinated the surgical teams must be to complete a complex procedure.

“My students could not stop talking about the event,” said Clare Kostelnick, who brought her dual-credit health occupations class. “The combination of the video with Dr. Clark’s narration, the exhibits and Dr. Matz’s anatomy demonstration — it was beyond words awesome!”

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