Beyond the Collegiate classroom
A De La Salle student gives chest compressions to a simulator mannequin during a visit to Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.

ROYAL OAK, Mich. — More than three dozen Honors Chemistry students from De La Salle Collegiate participated in a field trip to the Beaumont Health Research Laboratories in Oakland County.

Science teacher Nina Jacks has brought Honors Chemistry students on this trip since 2011. The 40 De La Salle students visited the Orthopedics Research Laboratory and the Surgical Simulation Center, where they interacted with scientists, researchers, doctors, and other professionals who explained their responsibilities and the technical equipment they use on a frequent basis.

“The opportunity to observe and discuss cutting edge research provides students with insight into medical research and technologies, not typically possible within a classroom environment,” Jacks said. “De La Salle was the first, and is still now one of only a handful of schools, who has engaged students on this type of tour at the Beaumont Research Institute, which does not typically allow public tours.”

While in the Orthopedics Research Laboratory students learned how medical implants that had been removed from patients due to faulty functioning are studied. Researchers explained that Beaumont is able to learn from their large “cemetery” of broken implants, such as joints made of metal or plastic, to aid in the design of improved orthopedic devices.

Students were introduced to biomedical engineers who showed how scanning electron microscopes and other impressive technologies are used to aid in research as well as the development of artificial tissues such as grafts that will be used in reconstructive surgery. Students were even shown the devices that are able to 3D-print human tissue and were told about why that technology is not yet allowed in humans in the United States.

The Surgical Simulation Center was another unique experience. This facility is one way that Beaumont is able to set themselves above other hospitals when it comes to preparing doctors, nurses, and other team members to handle stressful emergency room, operating room, and intensive care scenarios without using real patients. Students were able to touch and talk to robotic patients whose blood pressure, pulse, and breathing were all able to be observed like those in a living person.

Some students practiced their CPR skills by administering compressions to one simulator mannequin. One professional explained several of the training robots that are used to train residents, doctors, and nurses, including the video-game-like simulations that mimic the games. Students were also able to practice maneuvering robotic arms using remote controllers; simulations that are normally used to help nurses, doctors, and surgeons sharpen their skills.