Hillsboro High Students Scrub Up at SpecialtyCare

PENCIL is a terrific organization that helps Metro Nashville Public School students achieve academic and future success by promoting community involvement and connections with local businesses. As a proud PENCIL Partner, SpecialtyCare regularly hosts students from Hillsboro High School’s Academy of Global Health & Science so that they can learn about autotransfusion and minimally invasive surgical services. Our fully equipped simulation operating room, or Sim OR, which is used to train our staff, provides the perfect environment to introduce the students to life as a member of a surgical team.

Starting in 2018, we have extended the job shadowing experience to include intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM). Through a combined effort, our Nashville IONM Operational Leadership and the IONM Education Team have designed an elite experience for the students to actively learn about electrophysiology and participate in a virtual surgical procedure that utilizes intraoperative neuromonitoring to assist the surgeon and keep the patient safe during surgery. We will conduct four such IONM learning experiences in 2018; the first was held earlier this month.

Upon arrival at SpecialtyCare, the students changed into scrubs to give them the immediate feeling of a day in the operating room. In order to prepare them for what they would encounter in the OR, they spent time in the classroom learning about neuroanatomy, how nerves function, and how electrophysiology is utilized in surgery to protect neural structures. Next, one of our surgical neurophysiologists greeted the students and took them through a simulated spine procedure.

The students met their “patient” in pre-op and then entered the OR to prepare the IONM equipment, place electrodes on the training mannequin, and obtain baseline recordings. Throughout the “procedure,” the students assisted in monitoring the patient’s neurologic function. They successfully identified a motor evoked potential change and alerted the “surgeon” immediately. The surgeon was then able to take action by making an adjustment to the procedure. The students understood that had they not been there to alert the surgeon, the procedure might have resulted in a negative outcome for the patient, which could range from long-term muscle weakness to permanent nerve damage or even paralysis.

We’re also proud to support the LP PENCIL Box, a teacher supply store stocked largely through donations.

To complete the experience, the students were introduced to an actual patient who previously underwent spine surgery with the use of IONM. The students learned that, with a neurophysiologist on the surgical team, the patient felt reassured and protected going into surgery, which ultimately resulted in a positive clinical outcome.

SpecialtyCare’s commitment to continuous education and training is a key component of our culture, and it’s an honor to be able to share our knowledge and resources with Hillboro’s bright, young students. Through our partnership with PENCIL, we are able to create opportunities for students to explore different specialties within the medical field, share our enthusiasm for high-quality patient care, and perhaps even inspire a future career in medicine. Simultaneously, this partnership enables our local surgical neurophysiologists and training team members to grow professionally and give back to the community while providing memorable learning experiences for the Hillsboro students. As individuals and as an organization, we look forward to our continued collaboration with PENCIL and encourage other local organizations to get involved.


We invite you to learn about PENCIL Partners, the LP PENCIL Box, and more at www.pencilfoundation.org. You can follow @PENCIL4Schools on Twitter.