Former UK nurse Kristin Ashford has dedicated her life to researching ways to prevent pre-term birth and promote healthy pregnancies.

UK nurse, researcher helps prevent pre-term birth

Working as a labor and delivery nurse for a decade, Kristin Ashford was surrounded by happy beginnings. She helped women and families welcome healthy babies into the world. But Ashford also helped mothers and their families deal with the stressful and heart-wrenching experience of pre-term birth.

As a first-hand witness of the negative outcomes associated with pre-term birth, Ashford was motivated to make a difference. She transitioned from nursing into a researcher, studying risk factors of pre-term birth and creating strategies to prevent them through pregnancy interventions.

“It really got me interested in how to help these women more,” Ashford said of her nursing experience in labor and delivery. “Not only to reduce their risk, but also to help them emotionally cope with pre-term birth.”

Risk factors for pre-term birth

Pre-term birth is defined as delivery prior to 37 weeks gestation. Several risk factors, including smoking, substance abuse, poor socioeconomic conditions and obesity, increase a woman’s chance of experiencing pre-term birth. The consequences for the baby include respiratory illness, gastrointestinal disorders, immune deficiency, hearing and vision problems, and a prolonged hospital sta. There can also be longer-term motor, cognitive, visual, hearing, behavioral, social-emotional, health, and growth problems.

Now, as the assistant dean of research in the UK College of Nursing, Ashford oversees multiple research projects and interventions driven by the common goal of prolonging pregnancy.

“I think that any time that you can prolong a pregnancy, it is a rewarding experience,” she said. “If you can prevent the child from being sick, prevent that family’s stress and prevent life-long complications associated with that risk, that’s extremely rewarding.”

Research and interventions

Ashford’s research covers the issues relevant to pre-natal care, as there are many things that can be changed in order to prevent pre-term birth, like tobacco use. Her interventions aim to prevent tobacco and illicit drug use, manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity, and reduce emotional distress in expectant mothers.

Ashford’s interventions are founded on the CenteringPregnancy model, which prepares women for pregnancy, labor and delivery, and motherhood through a peer support groups led by nursing and other health professionals. Ashford has designed CenteringPregnancy interventions to help pregnant women in high-risk categories like diabetes, tobacco use, substance abuse, or other socioeconomic or ethnic risk factors.

“Our UK program actually wants to put women together that have more in common with one another,” Ashford said. “So, in addition to being put in the group about the same time that they’re pregnant, they also are put in (a group) based on their most high-risk factor for pre-term birth.”

One intervention effort led by Ashford effort seeks to inform pregnant women about the dangers of using tobacco products while pregnant and give them resources to quit. Despite the known risks of using tobacco products during pregnancy, many pregnant women in Kentucky still smoke. Ashford is troubled by the rising popularity of e-cigarettes among women of childbearing age. Her research studies indicate that women are using both e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco products during pregnancy.

“Tobacco causes birth defects in pregnancy — that’s known,” Ashford said. “And so, it’s very clear that electronic cigarettes contain tobacco. Certainly, there’s risks associated with electronic cigarette use in pregnancy.”

Ashford is expanding CenteringPregnancy programs to areas in Eastern and Western Kentucky. She is working with local health departments to provide a Centering support network for pregnant women in high-risk groups.

She said her position in the UK College of Nursing allows her to research and circulate interventions, teach future nurses and nursing researchers, and serve communities by improving the quality of health care.

What you need to know about bladder cancer

Written by Dr. Andrew James is a urologic oncologist with the UK Markey Cancer Center

Dr. Andrew James, bladder cancer

Dr. Andrew James

Bladder cancer accounts for 5 percent of all new cancer diagnoses in the U.S. with nearly 77,000 new cases annually; 1,100 people died of bladder cancer in Kentucky between 2010 and 2014.

The bladder is composed of an inner lining called the urothelium and an outer muscle that contracts to empty urine. Cancer cells that grow into tumors normally start within the urothelium. Generally speaking, these tumors are classified as low- or high-grade. Low-grade tumors may recur but have a lower chance of invading the bladder wall while high-grade tumors can behave much more aggressively, invading the muscle wall and potentially spreading to the lymph nodes and throughout the body.

Risk factors: Cigarette smoking is one of the greatest risk factors that can contribute to the development of bladder cancer. Tobacco use in Kentucky is considerably higher than the national average. Because of this, Kentucky is disproportionately affected by a significant number of people who develop bladder cancer. Other risk factors include exposure to certain industrial chemicals, and bladder cancer has been associated with people of certain professions including mechanics, painters, miners, hair dressers and truck drivers.

Caucasians are about twice as likely to develop bladder cancer when compared to African-Americans and Hispanics. Bladder cancer is also more common in men, and the risk for bladder cancer increases with age.

Symptoms: One of the most common symptoms is blood in the urine. Often, patients do not have any pain so they delay seeking evaluation from a doctor. Also, this blood may not be visible to the patient and can sometimes only be detected through specialized tests of the urine. Other symptoms such as urinary burning and frequency can mimic a urinary tract infection.

Screening/Evaluation: Currently, there are no formal bladder cancer screening recommendations; however, patients at higher risk for developing bladder cancer may benefit from tests that check for blood in the urine.

If you have symptoms or blood in the urine and are at risk for bladder cancer, your doctor may recommend a procedure called a cystoscopy. During this procedure, a small scope is inserted through the urethra into the bladder, allowing the doctor to evaluate the inside of the bladder for tumors.

Treatment: The optimal treatment for bladder cancer is different for every patient and can be influenced by the grade and stage of the original tumor, evidence of spread of cancer as seen on radiology studies such as CT scans, and certain patient specific factors. Low-grade tumors are often treated by a combination of endoscopic surgery and treatment that involves applying medication into the bladder via a catheter. High-grade, invasive tumors often require a combination of chemotherapy and surgery. Radiation treatment may be an option in select situations.

People diagnosed with bladder cancer often require life-long surveillance through imaging tests and cystoscopies due to the risk of recurrence of these tumors.


Next steps:

  • Learn more about the genitourinary cancer team at the Markey Cancer Center, where our experts specialize in detecting kidney, prostate, testicular and bladder cancer in their early stages.
  • Interested in clinical trials related to cancer treatment? Check out Markey’s clinical trials website to find a trial that might be right for you or someone you know.

Educating Kentucky on cancer, one child at a time

Standing in front of a group of rowdy young children, Eastern Kentucky native Melissa Hounshell only has to do one thing to grab their attention – bring out Mr. Gross Mouth.

Melissa Hounshell

Melissa Hounshell

Aptly named, Mr. Gross Mouth is a prop set of teeth and gums beleaguered by various medical problems caused by smoking and/or poor hygiene – rotting teeth, tongue cancer, lesions and more. The kids excitedly voice their shock and disgust as Hounshell runs through all the bad habits that might lead to such a set of teeth in real life.

“Kids love how shockingly gross ‘he’ really is,” Hounshell said. “Especially the tongue. They love to pass around the tongue!”

As the UK Markey Cancer Center’s community outreach director, Hounshell spends her days traveling the state, partnering with businesses and programs in local communities to raise awareness and educate the public about cancer risk factors and screenings.

One of her latest endeavors is a youth outreach program called Get Fit, Be Smart, Don’t Start. Using eye-catching props like Mr. Gross Mouth, it’s geared toward educating young children and encouraging them to take an interest in their parents’ health in addition to their own.

In a region where many adults avoid cancer screenings out of fear of what they might find, Hounshell notes the importance of getting children involved.

“We feel like it’s really important to work with children in the state,” she said. “What we’re really trying to do is reach that younger population and change that mindset, to make them understand the importance and value of health and wellness throughout their lives, not just when they’re 40, 50, 60 years old.”

Kids from the Winchester YMCA examine several of the health-related props that Hounshell brings along to her visits.

Overall, the youth program emphasizes a healthy lifestyle encompassing a good diet, staying active, avoiding smoking and tobacco products, and even the dangers of distracted driving. But considering Kentucky’s No. 1 ranking in both cancer incidence and mortality in the country, the likelihood of these children having some connection to cancer in their family is high, and Hounshell hopes her message of prevention sinks in.

“I encourage kids many times to go and talk with their parents or grandparents about either stopping smoking or getting mammograms or colonoscopies, because so many times a child can ask someone to do something and they’ll do it,” Hounshell said. “Whereas if a physician says, ‘It’s time for your mammogram,’ the patient might ignore it. But if her granddaughter comes and says, ‘You know, you really need to have a mammogram,’ she may listen.”

A personal perspective

Hounshell’s passion for cancer education comes from a very personal place. An only child, she saw both parents suffer from cancer, with her father – a smoker – succumbing to lung cancer just 11 weeks after diagnosis. Her mother, a nonsmoker, later battled breast cancer, celebrating six years of survival this month.

“This is very personal to me, it’s not just a job,” Hounshell said. “That’s why I work at Markey. Because I understand – I truly understand – the value of a wonderful cancer center, but I also understand how harsh cancer can be.”

Markey’s outreach program as a whole has one overarching goal: to reduce cancer rates in the state. Though it will take more time and a lot of data to see the program’s overall success, Hounshell says every small positive anecdote that gets back to her keeps her driven: a middle-schooler who saw how much tar goes into the body from a half pack of cigarettes a day and vowed to ask her grandmother to quit; an older man who picked up a free Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) at a Markey screening event that led to the discovery and treatment of a pre-cancerous polyp; the countless young children who have pledged to ask their parents not to text and drive.

“It’s not necessarily about the big numbers, but a change in mentality,” Hounshell said. “It’s more about the long-term impact, maybe in 10 years we look back and can say, ‘These kids have helped change the way we think about cancer.'”

Check out our Q&A with Melissa about colon cancer screening.

Much of Hounshell’s travels have taken her to the eastern half of the state, where the cancer rates are particularly dire. However, with the UK Markey Cancer Center Affiliate Network growing and expanding into Western Kentucky, she’s prepared to travel anywhere in Kentucky to improve cancer education and offer information on screenings to those who need it.

“I work with a lot of affiliate partners, but you don’t have to be an affiliate with our screening and outreach program,” she said. “I’ll partner with anybody as long as they’re passionate about getting Kentuckians screened for cancer.”


Next steps:

Adolescent Health and Recovery Treatment & Training supporters

Teens battling substance abuse get support, guidance from peers

For adolescents battling substance abuse, the hardest part of recovery can be finding someone who can relate to their experiences.

A unique University of Kentucky intervention program aims to provide just that by connecting adolescents recovering from substance abuse with someone who has been in their shoes. The program, called Youth Peer Support Specialists, is part of the the UK Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s Adolescent Health and Recovery Treatment and Training clinic, also known as AHARTT.

Peer support specialists connect with adolescents as they work through recovery, providing them with a person to talk to who has “lived experience.” Each supporter has firsthand experience with substance abuse and ongoing recovery, allowing patients to more closely identify with a member of their treatment team. This level of rapport is often unmatched by any other relationship they have encountered on their recovery journey.

In Kentucky, substance use by adolescents, rates of tobacco use, binge drinking and use of other drugs are higher than the national average. Use of these substances during the adolescent years can quickly lead to dependence and lay the foundation for lifelong use.

Once substance use begins, it changes the biology of the brain and affects life decisions. Specifically, more decisions revolve around the getting and using of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Sustained use makes biological and behavioral changes more entrenched. These changes often amplify feelings of hopelessness and alienation that teens may feel when they begin recovery treatment.

This is where the five Youth Peer Support Specialists working in the clinic aim to make a difference. The “supporters” ‒ James Riggs, Kelli Fullenlove, Josh Roehrig, Aaron Pope and Brittany Poe ‒ have all undergone rigorous training from the state of Kentucky and are certified to work with patients on a one-on-one basis. They receive careful supervision and are in close contact with the clinician caring for the adolescent. The supporters’ main objective is to “bridge the gap from the clinic to the community.”

“As peer supporters, we are able to show them, instead of tell them, exactly how to do this.” Pope said.

Riggs said the supporters’ role is to show adolescents that “people can be cool without using,” The stigma associated substance abuse can be a deterrent that keeps teens from seeking necessary treatment, but the supporters are in a unique position to help adolescents feel better about their recovery journey.

“We are an untapped resource for youth to enter the recovery community without having to deal with the associated stigma,” Roehrig said.


Next steps:

You should know about the dangers of childhood concussions.

Know the signs of childhood concussions

Does a child in your family play sports? If so, there are things you should know about the risks and dangers of childhood concussions.

Concussions are serious, traumatic brain injuries that get worse each time they happen. A second concussion can even be fatal to anyone not yet recovered from the first, a condition called second impact syndrome (SIS).

Be able to recognize concussion symptoms

It’s important to know the warning signs when you may be dealing with something as serious as brain trauma. A few concussion symptoms include:

  • Headache, vomiting or nausea.
  • Trouble thinking normally.
  • Memory problems.
  • Fatigue and trouble walking.
  • Dizziness and vision problems.
  • Changes in sleep patterns.

These symptoms can occur right away, but may not start for weeks or even months. If your child has any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately.

Don’t forget a helmet

Helmets are a required standard in team sports like football, but even backyard activities like riding a bicycle and skating call for protection.

Keep coaches in the know

If your child is playing team sports and has or may have had a concussion, be sure the coaches know. Continuing to play is not worth the risk of a second concussion, so when in doubt, sit them out.

Know your head injury ABCs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you know your ABCs. That means you will Assess the situation, Be alert for the signs and symptoms, and Contact a health care provider when there is a head injury.


Next Steps:

A UK physician created the PATHways clinic to help pregnant women with opioid addiction get clean and learn how to care for their baby.

UK clinic helps pregnant women with opioid addiction

After coming to UK two years ago, Dr. Agatha Critchfield, an OB-GYN at UK HealthCare Women’s Health, was overwhelmed by the cases of pregnant women with opioid addiction she saw in her practice. So she decided to do something about it.

Dr. Critchfield created PATHways, an opioid treatment clinic for pregnant women recovering from addiction. It combines treatment with prenatal care, counseling and a support group. The program is based on the Centering Pregnancy model, which reduces negative outcomes and prepares women to have a child through group counseling and peer support.

PATHways is special because it works to help patients in three important ways. First, the program treats the medical condition of opioid addiction. Then it delivers specialized prenatal care. Finally, PATHways gives women the skills and knowledge to fulfill their maternal roles once their babies arrive.

The program was born out of necessity to serve a large population of prenatal patients coming to UK with substance abuse disorders. Critchfield said few evidence-based opioid treatment programs were designed for pregnant women. So she started one herself, and it has been successfully treating patients who might have otherwise not been helped.

To learn more about the PATHways program and how it has helped many mothers-to-be, click here.

Dry eye is common and easily treated

Written by Dr. Seema Capoor, associate professor in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the UK College of Medicine.

Dr. Seema Capoor

Dr. Seema Capoor

It’s not uncommon for your eyes to become dry and uncomfortable. Factors like irritants in the environment, age, gender, certain medications or medical conditions can leave your eyes feeling gritty, itchy or irritated.

Tears are necessary for healthy eyes and clear vision. Dry eye syndrome, or DES, is a condition where the eye does not produce enough tears to keep the eyes well hydrated. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, but the good news is it’s usually easily treated.

Dry eye can be attributed to a number of factors, such as antihistamine or diuretic use, cigarette smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke, and environmental factors such as air drafts and low-humidity. DES can be classified as mild, moderate or severe. In the majority of patients, the condition is not sight-threatening and is characterized by troublesome symptoms of irritation, redness and intermittently blurred vision. If these symptoms are persistent, you should see your ophthalmologist, who can easily diagnose the condition with a simple external examination of the eye lids and cornea

The primary approaches used to manage and treat dry eyes include adding tears, conserving tears, increasing tear production, and treating the inflammation of the eyelids or eye surface that contributes to the dry eyes. Mild cases can be treated with artificial tears, emulsions, gels and ointments.

Moderate cases of DES can be treated with anti-inflammatory therapies such as Restasis, and topical steroids may be considered. Use of omega-3 fatty acid supplements has been reported to be beneficial.

Oral medications such as immunosuppressives are sometimes prescribed when DES is more severe. Also, humidifying ambient air and avoiding air drafts by using shields and by changing the characteristics of airflow at work, at home, and in the car may be helpful.

Measures such as lowering the computer screen to below eye level to prevent your eyes from opening too wide, scheduling regular breaks during the work day, and increasing blink frequency may decrease the discomfort associated with computer and reading activities.

Patients with severe DES are at greater risk for contact lens intolerance and should be cautioned that refractive surgery, particularly LASIK, may worsen their dry eye condition.


Next steps:

  • Dry eyes aren’t just annoyance, they’re a real medical issue. Learn more dry eyes.
  • We provide comprehensive eye care at a number of locations across Kentucky. Find out more UK Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences.
Dr. Matthew Bush, cochlear implant

UK doctor working to bring cochlear implant access, gift of hearing to Appalachia

The first time Dr. Matthew Bush observed a cochlear implant surgery, he was a young medical student from West Virginia visiting the University of Kentucky. He describes that experience as eye opening for him and ear opening for the patient.

Dr. Matthew Bush

Dr. Matthew Bush

To witness function restored to an ear that was otherwise lost, sparked not only an intense interest in hearing health care, but also the desire to offer people with profound hearing loss their best hope of re-entering a hearing world and a better quality of life through cochlear implantation.

Hearing loss affects about 48 million people in the United States. More than 694,000 of those people live in Kentucky. In older Americans, hearing loss is the third most common chronic public health problem after heart disease and arthritis.

Bush, now associate professor of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at UK HealthCare, has come full circle to lead the cochlear implant program at the very place he received his first exposure to the miracle of what cochlear implants can do for people whose hearing has declined to the point that even the most sophisticated of hearing aids can’t help.

As a physician, surgeon, teacher and researcher, he knows his mission is much more encompassing than treating the people who come to him.

“There are people who don’t even realize they have hearing loss and parents who don’t realize that their children have hearing loss, putting them at great risk for developmental delays, which can have negative consequences that will impact the rest of their lives,” Bush said.

Targeting Appalachia

There are people who have never heard about cochlear implants, and something even more concerning to Bush, there are people, particularly in rural Appalachia where he was born and raised, who don’t have the resources or ability to travel long distances to receive the help they desperately need in order to hear.

Bush’s rigorous research agenda at UK includes multiple ongoing studies, all with the main goal of developing methods to provide Kentuckians of all ages with a timely diagnosis and access to hearing health care. His most current study targets health disparities that exist between people in Appalachian areas and those in urban areas. Previous studies demonstrate that not only is hearing loss more prevalent in rural regions, but the time an individual becomes aware of hearing loss to actually receiving care, is double that of their urban counterparts. Many people with profound hearing loss are likely candidates for cochlear implants but their use of them is quite low.

Bush hypothesizes that an innovative and effective way to reach rural Kentuckians from UK is through the use of telemedicine, videoconference technology that connects health care providers in one location to the patient in another. They can see and hear each other, just as if they were in the same room.

In his current study, Bush will evaluate the hearing of patients from rural areas at the UK ENT Morehead location through the use of telemedicine to determine cochlear implant candidacy. The patient will sit in front of a specially designed computerized remote hearing cart with a computer screen. There, the patient will see and interact with UK audiologist Meg Adkins, who is working with Bush on this project. Adkins will perform the hearing evaluation from her office in Lexington.

The patient hears the test through calibrated headphones or a calibrated speaker connected to the audiometer. The audiometer is controlled remotely by Adkins. Patients will hear Adkins either through the headphones or a separate speaker attached to the cart designed for consultation. They see each other by using video conferencing technology.

For purposes of the study, Bush and a team of multidisciplinary providers will compare remote hearing evaluations with in-person evaluations to assess the practicality and cost assessing cochlear implant candidacy through this method. The success of his research will potentially impact existing health disparities by extending UK’s reach into Appalachian areas and expanding access to care for people who might not otherwise have the ability, or the resources, to travel a long distance to UK’s medical campus.

“Our primary goal is that we can achieve diagnostic assessment via telemedicine that is identical in accuracy to those obtained in the clinic so the patient has no concerns about the quality of their service,” Adkins said. “But our telemedicine team has also worked very hard to ensure we can produce such a high quality audio and video interaction, that patients feel just as comfortable with their remote appointment as they would have felt with an in-person session. We hope to demonstrate that cochlear implant assessment via telemedicine can be perceived as warm and interesting, as opposed to cool and clinical. If we achieve that, we then have the basis for building rapport and trusting relationships with our distance patients.”

Lifelong mission

Since the time he first observed a cochlear implant surgery, Bush has immersed himself into the study of a how one tiny electronic device implanted behind the ear and just under the skin, will allow a nearly deaf individual to hear and interpret sounds and speech. Restored hearing can potentially impact every aspect of a person’s life, both physically and emotionally. For a child living in a world of near silence, the impact is even more striking.

“My first cochlear implant patient here at UK was a child who had suddenly lost their hearing as a complication of meningitis. That child was unable to interact or communicate with family and there was a definite sense of urgency that I shared with the family and our cochlear implant team,” Bush said. After a successful operation and the programming of the device, that child was brought back into the world of listening without skipping a beat.

“The joy of seeing that child regain function and quality of life further reinforced my desire to improve hearing and provide hearing health care for other patients in similar situations,” Bush said.

This current work in telemedicine demonstrates that commitment to transform delivery of hearing health care, he said. Access to hearing specialists through telemedicine could influence patients’ readiness to seek further treatment for their hearing loss.

“Connecting cochlear implant specialists with patients with hearing loss in remote locations for the delivery of education regarding hearing loss treatments, diagnostic testing, and counseling regarding cochlear implantation represents an important step to deliver the most advanced medicine to patients,” Bush said.


Next steps:

  • Could a cochlear implant help you or someone who know? Learn more about our program.
  • The cochlear implant program is part of UK Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery department. Find out more about our comprehensive care related to the ear, nose and throat.
UK assistant professor has been awarded a $65,000 grant to support new UK research on coloboma, a leading cause of blindness in children.

UK researcher uses zebrafish to study eye disorder

UK Assistant Professor of Biology Jakub Famulski has been awarded a Career Starter Grant by the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, a charity sponsored by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar. The $65,000 grant will support Famulski’s new UK research on coloboma, a leading cause of blindness in children. The eye abnormality occurs before birth and involves missing tissue in or around the eye.

Famulski and his collaborators recently discovered a new type of coloboma, superior coloboma, which occurs in the top of the eye. But the underlying cause of most coloboma cases remains unknown.

To better understand the disorder, Famulski and UK graduate students Kristyn Van Der Meulen and Nicholas Carrara will use zebrafish as a model to study how coloboma occurs in the eye’s early development. With zebrafish, the team can easily and efficiently observe, manage and change cells in the laboratory.

“For a junior faculty member like myself, this grant is not only great financial help, but also confirmation that scientists in the community value this work, which I hope will help patients suffering from this disorder,” Famulski said.

The Knights Templar Eye Foundation, incorporated in 1956, works to improve vision through research, education and supporting access to care. Since its beginning, the foundation has awarded more than $23 million in grants to pediatric ophthalmology research. Thanks to this most recent grant, new UK research can help Famulski make a difference through the power of advanced medicine.

Dr. Sean Skinner teaches surgery basics to first-graders

My experience teaching surgery to first-graders

Written by Dr. Sean Skinner, pediatric surgeon at Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Sean Skinner

Dr. Sean Skinner

Not many first-grade science curriculums include hands-on surgical training, but that’s exactly the lesson I taught to my daughter’s class earlier this year.

As a pediatric surgeon, I had the opportunity to talk with my daughter and her first-grade peers at Sayre School in Lexington as part of a larger lesson about machines in workplaces. When she mentioned to her teacher, Mrs. Angela Hardin,  that I “worked with machines and robots at the hospital,” Mrs. Hardin offered me the opportunity to share my experiences with the class.

What followed was an exploration of surgery seen through the eyes of first-graders. I showed them the tools I use on a daily basis and fit them for surgical masks. I then explained to them that laparoscopy is a kind of surgery where we make very small cuts and perform the procedure with the assistance of a small camera that goes inside of a person’s body.

With the basics out of the way, the real fun started. The kids got to try their hands at the same laparoscopic training machines we use at the hospital. Using surgical tools attached to a camera and monitor, they performed a short drill of picking up beads from one cup and moving them to another. It didn’t take long for them to realize just how hard it is to use the instruments while watching a monitor at the same time.

I had a blast seeing how excited the kids were to use the simulators and answering all of their questions about surgery and being a doctor.

Pediatric surgery is no doubt a complicated subject for first-graders, but I think it’s important for children to learn about as many different careers as possible. Through activities like the one at my daughter’s school, kids are able to see what their parents and what other parents do.

I think it would be great to do this type of presentation and hands-on learning activity with more classrooms in Lexington and bring it to different age groups. The more topics children are exposed to at a young age, the better.

Of course, I think learning about science is important for all students and doing so at an early age could spur their interest in science and medicine going forward.

And who knows, maybe an activity like this could spark the next great scientist of the future.


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