HANCEVILLE, Ala. — There were gasps and groans, cheers and yells, dancing and jumping. It was all a part of Wallace State Community College’s Let’s Pretend Hospital, presented by its top-ranked nursing program.
The nursing program hosted Let’s Pretend Hospital for the first time in its new School of Nursing and Center for Science, utilizing the state-of-the-art simulation center that is designed to look like a modern hospital and several of its classrooms.
Every student in the nursing program participated as more than 1,000 of first-graders from public and private schools in Cullman city and county visited to learn about a variety of subjects important to their health and well-being. But they weren’t subjected to classes or lectures on their visit. Characters such as Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen” instead entertained them, along with dancing bumblebees, bears, and even Dr. Suess and the Grinch.
“This is something we’ve done for many years to help children understand a trip to the doctor or the hospital doesn’t have to be a scary thing,” said Ann Culpepper, Coordinator of Clinical Learning. “They learn about ways to protect themselves from germs, how to react in the case of an emergency, what to expect if they have to go the hospital, and much more.”
Teachers who bring their students to the event say the children love the field trip. “They’re excited about everything,” said Christy Brown of Hanceville Elementary School. “When they get back [to school] they ask when they can go back.”
Wallace State students enjoy the experience as well. Joseph Dunne of Hayden participated in his second Let’s Pretend Hospital this year. He acted as a guide for the classes, taking them to each of the eight rooms set up for the event. He had a front-seat view to watch the children react and interact with the other WSCC nursing students.
“The girls are more excited about the “Frozen” room,” he said. In that room, the students were greeted by Elsa and Ana, who sang the popular tune, “Let it Go” and welcomed the students to join in song and dance. Each child also got to see and X-ray image on the video screen as they placed their arm or arms on the X-ray machine.
This was Falcia McLaughlin’s first Let’s Pretend Hospital. “I was actually nervous coming into,” she said, as she stood outside the “Bug Room,” where students were learning about germs and how to “Shake it Off,” dancing to the Taylor Swift tune.
“It’s cute to see how excited they are,” she said. One of the rooms the children especially liked, McLaughlin said, was the Operating Room, which was decorated with the popular “Operation” board game as its theme.
Culpepper was pleased with how well the event went this first time in the new facility. “It’s been wonderful and we couldn’t have done it without our students and the great support we received from the local and medical community.”
Cullman Area Vocational Center provided the bus drivers and fuel for the four days of Let’s Pretend Hospital. Cullman Regional Medical Center provided arm bands, Children’s Hospital provided pediatric surgical masks, Hanceville Fire and Rescue provided an ambulance, ladder truck and two fire fighters each day, and Creative Designs assisted in creating the Let’s Pretend Hospital T-shirt designed by Jessica Johnson, a Nursing 202 student.
The nursing program is now accepting applications for Fall 2015. Deadline for entries for the fall semester is May 15 and Sept. 1 for Spring 2016. For more information about the Wallace State Nursing program, visit www.wallacestate.edu/nursing or call 256.352.8000.