Live Surgery Broadcast Offers High School Students a Unique Science Lesson

Northwestern Medicine
For Students March 20, 2012
StudentsStudents at Westinghouse College Prep on Chicago’s west side recently had the opportunity to expand their knowledge beyond their science books. The students, who are part of the Northwestern Medicine® Scholars Program, experienced their first distance learning lesson as they watched Nathaniel Soper, MD, chair of the department of surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and his team perform a laparoscopic gallbladder removal via live broadcast. The Scholars Program is part of Northwestern’s longstanding commitment to the community, and is designed to offer students a head start in careers in medicine through live surgery broadcasts, mentoring, lectures, tours and other hands-on learning experiences.

The program, co-founded by Erica E. Marsh, MD, reproductive endocrinologist at Northwestern Memorial, and Maria Lin, program director, Human Resources at Northwestern Memorial, exposes students to medical careers early so they can observe, learn and consider their future goals. The program spans the students’ high school careers.

“It’s one thing to talk with young people about a career as a nurse or surgeon or anesthesiologist, but it’s another to see what those roles are like in real life,” said Marsh. “By broadcasting the surgery, we were able to safely bring students into the operating room to witness a live surgery.”

Kaya Holland, one of the six scholars, watched as Soper carefully guided the laparoscope into the patient’s torso through a ¼” incision so he could get a good look at the area in which he would be operating. After inserting narrow instruments through three other tiny incisions, Soper conducted a brief tour of the inside of the patient, including a view of her gallbladder, liver and stomach, which created a reaction from the students.

“The surgery really opened my eyes and was very interesting to see,” said Holland. “The way we could see every little thing the doctor was doing was cool and much better than I expected.”

Westinghouse College Prep principal, Dr. Janice Jackson worked with Marsh and Soper to arrange the distance learning opportunity for the classmates and believes that community partnerships, like the collaboration between her school and Northwestern Medicine®, are vital to the success of the high school students.

“The students are excited about medicine, so this was a great experience for them,” said Jackson. “This program is a game changer for our students because our kids are now at an advantage because of our partnership with Northwestern; they are able to engage with doctors who have amazing careers and utilize the mentor relationship that is being created.”
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