Abby Lind is pretty sure she wants to work at a Human Bean coffee shop when she grows up, rather than entering the medical field.
But that didn't stop the Cascades Elementary School kindergartner from enjoying every part of Mini Medical School on Friday afternoon, from the handwashing and germ-detection station to the mock "surgery" table.
"Every single one!" the 6-year-old declared. "All of them are my favorite part."
That's what organizers at the Western University of Health Science College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest in Lebanon like to hear. It's why they've been organizing Mini Medical School for mid-valley kindergartners since 2011.
Kindergartners from all over the greater Lebanon area came to the medical school Friday, including students from Cascades, Riverview, Green Acres, Pioneer, Hamilton Creek, Lacomb, Sand Ridge, East Linn Christian, Central Valley Christian and home-schooling families.
Medical students helped them into hats, gloves, face masks and specially-sized surgical gowns, then took them through the four stations: handwashing, "surgery," cardio and skeletal.
Introducing the idea of a medical career to tiny tots does a couple of things, said Jeannie Davis, associate director of community outreach. For one thing, they may understand more about the procedures and be less worried when it comes time for their own doctors' appointments.
For another, they learn a thing or two. At the cardio station, for instance, kindergartners learned their own hearts are about the size of their closed fists and they beat faster with exercise, such as a quick round of jumping jacks. At surgery, they used felt organs to learn the proper placement for lungs, kidneys and the liver. At the skeletal station, they matched bones to a skeleton named Slim and learned that teeth, too, are bones.
The key, however, to Mini Medical School: The youngsters might think about joining the medical field themselves when they grow older, based on the memories they have of their visit to COMP-NW.
"If you choose that and it's super fun, hopefully you'll stay with it," Davis said.
First-year med students Olivia Anderson, Jessica Roberts and Samantha Yasueda all said they wish they'd had such an opportunity when they were 5 and 6 years old.
"This is the type of experience you could write about in your admissions essay," said Anderson, of Palm Springs. "I would have loved to do this."
Roberts, who hails from La Grande, said she always knew she wanted to be a doctor but would have been all over a chance to practice "real" medicine as a youngster. She said she hoped the visitors would come away "seeing that it is fun. I think that's the biggest thing."
Yasueda, who's from the San Diego area, said she especially likes the number of partnerships COMP-NW has with Lebanon. It's exciting, she said, to have a medical school in your hometown that you can visit at any time, and the mini school is a part of that.
"I feel like it builds a strong relationship with the community," she said.