LEBANON — Kindergartens from every Lebanon-area school toured four medical demonstration stations on Friday, as the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest held its seventh annual mini medical school.
The kindergartners, dubbed "pint-sized docs" by one COMP-Northwest employee, learned about heart health, the skeletal system and hand-washing techniques.
After the hand-washing came one of the day's highlights: Performing "surgery" on a fellow kindergartner, in which a youngster would lie on an operating table as the other children removed cloth "organs."
Before the kids headed into the "operating room," COMP-Northwest employee Jess Reynolds explained the importance of cleanliness and the importance of hand-washing. Reynolds used a fake dye on the children to simulate germs, then had them wash their hands thoroughly until the "germs" were gone.
"Let's scrub up like surgeons," Reynolds said.
Lucy Arp, 6, of Riverview School volunteered to be the patient, a role she found fun to play.
"I woke up (during 'surgery'), and they said 'go back to sleep'," she said.
First-year COMP-Northwest student Jacob Fletcher educated students on the function of organs such as the small intestine, bladder and kidneys.
"It's really exciting to see the kids come through and get really excited for it," he said.
Fletcher added that the children may not retain everything he told them, but they're learning, and the other stations helped the "mini-docs" with the material.
At another station, medical student Benjamin Co told the kindergartners about the skeletal structure, and showed them an X-ray of a hand with a broken finger.
"Do you know what these holes in the bones are?" Co asked. "They're called joints."
COMP-Northwest Associate Director of Clinical Education Jeannie Davis organized the event, saying it was a way to give youngsters their first day of college. Also, she added, it helps alleviate fear of doctors.
"Plus, we get to hang out with kindergartners," Davis said.
COMP-Northwest created the event shortly after its 2011 opening, when it adopted a kindergarten classroom at Riverview School, where full-sized medical students still visit every month. In return, the children visit the medical school near the end of the school year.
The event has since expanded across the mid-valley to include the Lebanon Community School District, Sand Ridge Charter School, East Linn Christian Academy and home-school families, plus schools in Albany and Corvallis.