Dr Nadine Hachach-Haram, Founder and CEO of Proximie, reveals her pride in seeing elementary school children virtually venture into the operating room, using her platform.
Seeing the pictures from the Institute for Surgical Excellence’s 7th Annual Healthcare Explorers event this week really reinvigorated me.
For those unaware, Proximie was used at St. Thomas More Elementary School, Allentown, PA, to broadcast a host of world-renowned surgeons directly into a school gymnasium.
It enabled a room full of school children to be exposed to surgery in a really immersive and inspiring way. The virtual discussion revolved around a surgical video on a robotic mitral valve procedure; as early introductions to sxurgery go, this was a complex place to start, but that’s beside the point.
Seeing so many school children enraptured by a team of skilled surgeons discussing their trade was beautiful. It reminded me of why I became a surgeon in the first place, and my first experience in an operating room. I was just 14 years old, in Sidon, Lebanon. It remains one of the most inspiring moments in my life, and was undoubtedly the reason why I became a surgeon in the first place. That moment shaped my professional life in a way I only truly understand now, and this week’s event hammered home how lucky I was to be afforded such a unique opportunity so young.
At Proximie, we often talk about empowering the next generation of top surgeons and how our platform is being used across the world to help facilitate incredibly important clinical education, at a time when access to travel and operating rooms have been restricted for trainees. But this was different.
It showed a side of our platform that I hadn’t really considered; Proximie as a means to really, truly bring surgery to the minds of young people at an impressionable age.
Research has shown that teenage brains have more synaptic connections than fully formed adults, which makes them highly impressionable, and primed to learn quickly and more effectively than adults. It’s a period of huge opportunity before the brain is fully matured, and seeing all of those children so engaged with the wonderful group of surgeons from all corners of America, reminded me that the operating theatre is a really enriching environment for people of all ages.
I’m constantly looking at ways to ensure my three children are engaged at school and interested. It’s so easy to become distracted and disengaged at a young age, but the children at St. Thomas More Elementary School were genuinely present and intrigued by the mystic of the operating room.
Surgical training is not just about clinical dexterity. It can encourage leadership and teamwork skills, good communication skills and of course, empathy and understanding. You need to be a good listener, to be organised and collaborative, and you of course need to develop and hone good cognitive skills.
There are so many facets to being a surgeon, and many of these skills are transferable to other areas of life.
Young people have a natural passion, enthusiasm and desire to make the world a better place, but their needs are not always entirely understood or met. You sometimes forget how malleable we all were as teenagers, but the event earlier this week showed me how we can hopefully engage and inspire young people around healthcare and technology, in a modern and enlightening way.
It showed me that the future is bright.