At the Hunterdon Biomedical Sciences Academy (BSA) in New Jersey, high school students interested in careers in health care and biomedical science study everything from anatomy and physiology to genetics and microbiology.
Now, 20 seniors will put their studies to practice when they don surgical gowns, masks and gloves and help perform an arthroscopy and dissection of a human cadaver with a team from St. Luke’s University Health Network.
The cadaver lab will take place 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 11 at the Roseberry Surgical Center at St. Luke's University Health Network’s Warren Campus, 185 Roseberry St., Phillipsburg, N.J.
The lab will be led by Dr. Nicholas Avallone of St. Luke's Orthopedic Care and a team that includes Trishann Green, Director of Surgical Services at Warren Hospital, Athletic Trainer Chris Servian and Athletic Training Resident Ashley DeSousa.
Using a knee-to-toe cadaver supplied by the Venel Institute in Bethlehem, the team will demonstrate arthroscopic surgery on the knee and then do a full dissection of the knee, lower leg, ankle, and foot. Students will have a chance to participate under the direct supervision of Avallone.
“We like to have the students do as much as possible, so they can see what it is like to use a knife, what is it like to use forceps, what it is like to feel these different structures with a gloved hand,” Avallone said.
Cadaver labs are among a plethora of programs and activities that St. Luke’s University Health Network offers to high school students.
Scott R. Wolfe, President of the St. Luke’s Warren Campus, says the goal is to get the students interested in careers in health care, learn about the Network’s commitment to quality care and educate the caregivers of tomorrow. “We want them to grow up with a respect for the health care professional whether they work in or are consumers of the health care industry,” he said.
This will be the fourth cadaver lab for high school students in New Jersey led by Avallone. In addition, Dr. Daniel Heckman, also of St. Luke’s Orthopedic Care, held a cadaver lab at Parkland High School in South Whitehall, Pa.
Usually, the labs take place at the participating high school. Avallone said BSA wanted students to experience a real operating room, and the surgical suite within Roseberry Surgical Center was the perfect venue.
The cadaver lab will be a first for the BSA, which is located at North Hunterdon High School.
“The students can’t wait. I can’t wait,” said Donna Badgwell, Phd., who is a BSA instructor.
Badgwell said the experience is all thanks to the relationship that St. Luke’s forged with the BSA, which opened four years ago and will be graduating its first class in the spring.
Avallone is a member of the Biomedical Science Academy’s advisory board, which offers guidance on curriculum and activities. Badgwell said Avallone suggested the lab idea.
“We are sincerely grateful to St. Luke’s,” Badgwell said. “They are serious about wanting to educate kids.”
Avallone said arthroscopy of the knee is a good introduction to surgery. “It is so common that students may know family members or friends who have undergone the procedure that involves inserting a scope with a camera and light through a small incision.
“It offers a great view of the inside of a knee,” he said. “It’s a fun experience, and I think they’ll get a lot out of it.”
Green said students will also learn about the need for OR health care professionals, particularly OR nurses, who are in short supply. It also gives her a chance to make a pitch for students to consider getting their medical training through the military. Green herself is a member of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.
Wolfe said St. Luke’s health care professionals such as Avallone and Green are committed to helping students. “We have people who care and will go the extra mile for our patients,” he said. “It’s a way of giving back to the community.”