As the group of Grade 9 students watched in awe as a surgeon meticulously extricated patient “‘Joe’s’ gallbladder, a few couldn’t help, but exclaim, “that’s so cool” while another muttered, “Ugh, did we have to see this after lunch?”
Thoracic surgeon Dr. Maurice Blitz provided the students with an insider’s look at the surgical procedure – not in the operating room, but on video as part of St. Joseph’s Health Centre’s annual Take Your Kids to Work Day.
Hospital staff members’ sons and daughters took part in different educational sessions from learning how to cast a broken limb to taking a X-ray to suturing a deep cut and learning what it’s like to be intoxicated by wearing simulation goggles.
Blitz, who specializes in treating people with respiratory illnesses, predominantly lung cancer, spoke of his challenging, yet rewarding career as a surgeon. Particularly satisfying, he said, is that surgeons get to cure people.
“For me, after Grade 12, I did another 19 years of school. It’s a long haul, but it’s really rewarding. We work in a dynamic field – it’s pretty high stress, but I work with wonderful people,” he told his audience. “If medicine is what you want, go for it.”
Provided with gloves, caps, masks and patients – in the form of pigs’ feet – the teens were taught by St. Joe’s medical staff how to suture.
“Believe it or not, we all practice on pigs’ feet,” said Blitz as he instructed the students to grasp the needle driver with their fourth fingers and thumbs. “Then, put the needle on the needle driver....”
Jeannie Benedicto, whose mother is a nurse at St. Joe’s, said she was loving every minute of the tutorial.
“I find it really fascinating,” she told The Villager. “It’s almost realistic. I feel this is one more step to our dream.”
Benedicto had just met Jobelle Agarpao, who attends Father John Redmond Catholic School in Etobicoke that day, but had discovered the two were kindred spirits.
“We’d love to go to other countries to help people. It’d be such a wonderful feeling,” said Agarpao, whose aunt works at St. Joe’s.
Even though he’s only in Grade 9, Michael Grygowski said he has already decided he wants to go into the medical field.
“I’m going into pediatrics,” said Grygowski, whose mother is a gynecologist. “I decided this two years ago. I just like working with kids.”
Asked what he thought of suturing his pig’s foot, he said, “It’s awesome. It’s so cool.”
The health centre has hosted Take Your Kids to Work Day for 10 years. It’s an opportunity for the hospital to showcase its expertise while showing students what happens inside their community hospital. As many as 30 students took part in the day.