Grundy Area Vocational Center's health occupations classroom in Morris turned into a mini-medical center on Friday, as students donned scrubs and gloves for a realistic simulation.
More than 30 students took part in the activity, where they were tasked with treating patients for simulated medical issues including gun shot wounds, broken bones, heart attack, lacerations needing stitches, and wound care.
In some instances, the patients were medical mannequins, while for other cases the students themselves posed as patients in need of care.
The idea behind the simulation was for the students to come out with a strong understanding of at least one skill after their hands-on efforts, while having fun, being accurate, and remembering not to rush the process.
Jennifer Shell, a registered nurse and Health Occupations Instructor at GAVC, said the students and staff planned for the surgical/OR simulation for more than three weeks. The students are part of the GAVC Health Occupations 2 class, where they study medical terminology. But, Shell said, the students wanted more.
"We found that the kids were bored with just learning terms," Shell said. "So, I wanted to incorporate our clinical experience, we get it through Morris Hospital, and I wanted to give them real life situations and scenarios. So, we decided, as a big team, to come up with an OR situation where we would create scenarios for the kids. They would then have to prioritize nursing assessments."
The students had to figure out how to handle their ABCs — airway, breathing, circulation — in emergency cases.
"If somebody comes in with a trauma that's bleeding but having difficulty breathing, what do you assess first? So, we're trying to give those basic skills so that can help them through nursing school," she said. "For most of them, this is a stepping stone for nursing school, so this gives them a good base. It's also an alternative to just note cards."
Shell said preparing for the simulation required cooperation from students, staff, and the entire team at GAVC, including the administration. Students from the computer graphics class also attended to document the process and create a video.
Shell said for those participating in the simulation, the goal was to learn about everything involved during a medical emergency, including paperwork, teamwork, and working efficiently.
"As nurses, communication is key. So, we need to make sure that they are accurate in their communication and we're giving them that next level of what they need so they can be very successful in the field," she said.
The students said the experience wasn't just educational, but also fun.
"I really like this class, it's one of my favorites. We've learned so much. We've learned a lot of developmental skills, we've gone over a lot and we're still learning a lot," said Jennifer Arteaga, a senior at Morris Community High School who plans to attend JJC then pursue a career as a physical therapist. "Going over traumas is super interesting ... I really like learning about the medical field. I didn't know that I was going to go into the medical field until I took this class my first year. After that I was hooked."
Coal City High School senior Madison Emerson said the class and the simulation have helped her gain knowledge and experience as she prepares to pursue a career in the medical field.
"I think it was cool that these past two weeks we got to do the trauma part of it, work in the OR and work as doctors almost, that was really cool," Emerson said. "We took all those skills that we have observed at the hospital and got to pursue them, so that was really cool. I want to continue my education and major in nursing after high school, so I just thought it would be good to put my foot in the door ... to have an advantage."
A total of 34 students attend the class that begins at 6:45 a.m. at the GAVC campus behind Morris Community High School. The students come from all over Grundy, including Morris, Coal City, Gardner South-Wilmington, and Minooka high schools.
"It takes a lot of dedication," Shell said. "They seem to really like it and I've noticed if I can keep them engaged with great activity, they're really engaged in the classroom."