Students in operating room with Dr. Ringnes

Approximately 60 Truckee, Incline and North Tahoe high school students experienced a session in the operating room as an orthopedic surgeon Wednesday with the help of University of Nevada Medical School and Tahoe Forest Health System. The students enrolled in advanced placement biology and human body systems classes scrubbed in to witness a total knee replacement surgery in the university’s advanced surgical lab.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ringnes performed the surgery on one of the school’s cadavers. Students practiced with surgical instruments to understand the mechanics of the operation. After the surgery, the students toured the medical school’s anatomy and physiology lab.

“This type of experience touches both college and career ready goals for our students,” said Kelli Twomey, coordinator of parent and community relations with the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. “This engages and challenges students at a higher level while informing them about possible careers.”

Dan Coll, Tahoe Forest Hospital director of orthopedics, has organized this field trip three consecutive years with the help of the Tahoe Forest Health System’s surgical support staff and the hospital’s orthopedic surgeons.

“Besides being a singularly amazing learning experience for these students, this trip informs them about career opportunities in the medical field,” Coll explained. “From the surgeon to the surgical tech, there are many people who play vital roles in healthcare. It also gives the students the chance to tour a university campus.”

For a few students the up close nature of the lab proved to be a little overwhelming resulting in a few lightheaded moments. But, for others it helped solidify interests.

“It was such a great experience. I’ve been interested in the medical field but didn’t know if I had the stomach for it. Now I know I can do it,” said Annie Guerra, a senior at Truckee High School. “Today I retracted skin, hammered something into the knee cap and removed something from the knee. I loved it and it helped me decide that I do want to go into the medical field.”