Cardiovascular Division Providers Participate in School Outreach Program

On Friday February 3rd, the students at Barack Obama Elementary School got an education in heart health as faculty and staff from the Washington University School of Medicine Cardiovascular Division visited science classes with hands-on presentations.

Doctors presented to 5th, 6th, and 8th grade classes. They discussed the anatomy and basic function of the heart, taught children how to properly take their pulse, and overviewed causes and treatments for diseases and conditions of the heart. Sonographers even demonstrated portable cardiac ultrasounds so the students could all see a real heart in action.

Dr. Linda Peterson, who leads the outreach program spoke to the 8th grade class about the importance of CPR, demonstrated by the recent lifesaving measures administered to NFL player Damar Hamlin after he suffered cardiac arrest during a game.

Drs. Karen Joynt-Maddox, fellow Dr. Anne Marie Kerchberger, and sonographer Billy Cathey Joined Dr. Peterson in Dr. Vivian Johnson’s science class. In Ms. Brand’s 5th grade class, Dr. Joshua Mitchell and Dr. Justin Sadhu answered questions from the class about heart transplant, bypass, and the causes of heart failure, and helped the children calculate how many times their hearts beat in a year. Ms. Betts’s 6th graders watched videos about angioplasty and stent procedures explained by cardio oncology fellow Dr. Zyad Qamer, and sonographer Rachel Myers talked about how she came to her career in medicine.

Of the outreach program, Dr. Peterson says, “I have been doing this at Normandy since 2016. I started going to my own kids’ school at Ladue HS, and I would talk with their anatomy/physiology class. The kids were very appreciative, and I knew several of the kids in the class had parents who were MDs. I wanted to expand this to kids who maybe didn’t have the same level of exposure to medical information. I would drive by the Normandy middle school on Lucas and Hunt as I went to the pool at Glen Echo in the summer, so I called up the Principal to see if he would be OK with me coming to talk with the kids in February for heart month. He and his staff, including Dr. Vivian Johnson have been very supportive of me and my colleagues coming ever since.”

February is National Heart Month, and the Wash U Cardiovascular division is committed to improving the cardiovascular health of our St. Louis Metro Area community through programs like this one. Our faculty and staff are grateful for the opportunity to work with young people and encourage them to make healthy choices, be curious about science, and potentially pursue careers in medicine. Dr. Peterson and the team look forward to returning to present to younger elementary students on February 10th.