Surgical day at Alnwick school wasn’t for the squeamish

Student get to grips with a procedure during Operating Theatre Live at the Duchess's Community High School, Alnwick.
Student get to grips with a procedure during Operating Theatre Live at the Duchess's Community High School, Alnwick.

An 11 hour day packed full of intestines, lungs and other pig parts – what could be more interesting?

Operating Theatre Live is the UK’s leading dissection-based surgical experience, aimed at budding surgeons, doctors and generally those interested in a career in healthcare.

Operating Theatre Live at the Duchess's Community High School, Alnwick.

Operating Theatre Live at the Duchess's Community High School, Alnwick.

They came to the Duchess’s Community High School in Alnwick, on Tuesday, October 30, to host their event for GCSE and A-Level students from all over the North East.

Putting on my surgical scrubs that morning,

I felt many rushes of excitement – this was the event I, as well as many others I’m sure, were looking forward to most in our half-term.

Even then, this was such a unique experience that I was simultaneously intrigued and nervous about what was going to happen today.

Don’t worry though, we weren’t thrown straight into blood, guts, and gore!

Working in small groups of about five, our first practical task was to administer anaesthetic to our patients.

These patients were the only thing not real throughout the day, however, though plastic, we still practised exquisite bedside manner as if they were real people.

The subsequent practical tasks… we could smell an unforgettable stench before we could even see what we were about to deal with.

Think of a body part. It is highly likely that we either dissected, studied, or looked at what you are thinking of throughout the 11 hours we were there.

We did everything from a pig’s brain and eyeballs, to its respiratory, circulatory and digestive systems, all the way down to its trotters.

A day definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Some of these dissections involved biological knowledge as to where different smaller parts of the body were, however, most required pure, brute force to cut through tendons, muscles, ligaments, you name it!

For the people attending the emergency medicine event in the evening, we also carried out a leg amputation, using mattress stitching and plaster casting to patch up the pig.

Did you know that in a pint of sea water, there are more viruses than humans on this planet? This fact, as well as many other interesting ones, filled our time between each practical task.

We were given very detailed theory lessons on subjects like the brain, the heart and how anaesthetics work.

Furthermore, we were also given medical admissions mock questions – very challenging questions that required a lot of critical thinking.

These key skills are crucial for doctors and surgeons, and a lot of medical schools require undergraduates to pass these arduous tests.

In my opinion, Operating Theatre Live is a completely unique experience, and I would highly recommend it to those interested in the field of surgery, medicine or any other similar field.

The knowledge that was given was so in-depth, I hardly knew what a lot of words meant, however, it has inspired me to learn more about this broad and interesting subject, and pursue medicine and surgery as part of my career.