Wallace State Nursing Hosts Let’s Pretend Hospital
Hanceville, AL — For three days starting on Tuesday, Nov. 14, first graders from around Cullman County were welcomed to the 15th annual Let's Pretend Hospital, hosted by Wallace State Community College's nursing program. With the goal of teaching children not to be afraid of a hospital setting, nursing students welcomed the youngsters to the event full of learning and fun alongside some of their favorite characters.
The halls of the School of Nursing and Center for Science were transformed into an interactive learning space, where nursing students donned vibrant costumes and engaged young visitors in a series of themed rooms. Nursing students performed skits as doctors, nurses and technicians to provide information and demonstrations to the children. The goal of Let’s Pretend Hospital is to help mitigate anxiety and prepare children if they must be admitted to a hospital, visit the emergency room or have an accident at home or school. While the first graders were there to learn more about hospitals, the nursing students also got to have some fun and spend time outside of the classroom with some of their instructors. The event also gives them more experience with interacting with pediatric patients.
First-grade students learn about correct life jacket usage in "The Safety Zone" room.
Heather Ashley is a nursing instructor at Wallace State and is also the chair for Let’s Pretend Hospital. She has been a faculty member since 2017 and has been coordinating the annual week-long event since then.
“I coordinate everything between first graders, schools, volunteers and nursing students,” said Ashley. “We get to see all our area first graders, which is great. One of my favorite parts about Let's Pretend Hospital is the big community involvement,” said Ashley.
The rooms of the hospital were each decorated with a fun theme and a cast of characters presented activities for the children. Each room had a different lesson to be learned. There were seven stations for the first graders to tour through including:
- A hygiene room, decorated with "good” and “bad” germs to teach students the importance of handwashing and covering their mouths when they cough
- An X-ray room, featuring Elsa, Anna and Olaf from “Frozen” who taught them how to have healthy bones and that it doesn’t hurt to have an X-ray
- An operating room, decorated after the board game “Operation”
- A nutrition room, decorated after the book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” where they learned to pick healthy food options
- An emergency room, decorated with a Dr. Seuss theme, where students learned how they would be treated if they ever visited the ER
- A room called “The Safety Zone,” where students were taught how to stop-drop-and-roll; the importance of wearing seatbelts, lifejackets and bicycle helmets; as well as how to be careful around medications that resemble candy
- A patient room, decorated like a jungle, showed the students things they could expect if admitted into the hospital, including how they can raise and lower the bed, summon a nurse with a push of a button and basic triage methods such as getting their blood pressure read
A Hanceville Fire and Rescue firefighters shows students firefighting equipment stored inside the fire truck.
Hanceville Fire and Rescue was also there, instructing students on the best ways to prevent fires and showing them ways that the department would help them if they ever got into an accident. They let the first graders explore the fire truck and they also demonstrated some of the equipment fire fighters use every day like oxygen respirators and a thermal camera to detect body heat through smoke.
“Hanceville Fire and Rescue have been amazing,” said Ashley. “They have been here every year for the past few years and for them to volunteer their time for the students is great. We really appreciate them.”
Air Evac Lifeteam 15 flew in a helicopter from the Cullman County Regional Airport and landed in the grass field across from the School of Nursing and Center for Science. Upon landing, the pilots showed the first-grade students around the aircraft and how they perform medical procedures while in flight. They also shared the importance of teamwork.
The Wallace State Department of Nursing Education moved its facilities to the School of Nursing and Center for Science in 2014, which is where Let’s Pretend Hospital took place. Here, WSCC nursing students have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, including the Simulation Center that is often used by other WSCC Health Science programs.
Eight current WSCC Nursing students who also attended Let's Pretend Hospital as first graders.
Eight current Wallace State Nursing students attended Let’s Pretend Hospital when they were in the first grade, between the years of 2008 and 2012. Levi Garner was in the first grade when WSCC held the very first Let’s Pretend Hospital in 2008, now he is a full-time nursing student with four semesters left until he graduates. This is his second year helping with Let’s Pretend Hospital. While usually in scrubs, on Tuesday he was dressed up as Captain America.
“I actually came to Let’s Pretend Hospital as a first grader. I remember how much fun I had when I was that age, so being here as a nursing student and helping put this on is special,” said Garner. “My favorite part is getting to see all the kids have fun and learn valuable things. The kids seem to love it and all of us here have a blast too.”
In 2008, Ashley was one of the nursing students in costume. This year, with eight students who once came to the event as first graders, Ashley says things feel like they’ve come “full circle.”
“I am a WSCC graduate, and this is my community. I feel like we strive for excellence here and there is no place I would rather be,” said Ashley.
Chair of Let's Pretend Hospital Heather Ashley, left, poses with WSCC Nursing student Levi Garner. Garner is one of eight current Wallace State Nursing students who particpated in Let’s Pretend Hospital as a first grader. Ashley was a student at Wallace State student the same year Garner came through as a student.
The nursing program at Wallace State has twice been recognized as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing, a recognition of not only its commitment to students but to the community through various programs.
Registration for the Spring 2024 semester is currently underway, with classes beginning Jan 8 for regular and Mini Term I and March 6 for Mini Term II. Registration for Flex Start I courses will be held Jan. 13-19, with classes starting Jan. 15 and registration for Flex Start II courses will be held Jan. 20-26, with classes starting Jan. 22. Visit www.wallacestate.edu/register-now to apply and register for classes.
First-grade students learn about germs and handwashing in the hygiene room.
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