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Neuroscience class takes learning into operating room at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital

Harry Sontheimer (right), executive director of the School of Neuroscience, talks with students about the surgery they are watching at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital as part of the Clinical Neuroscience in Practice course.

The School of Neuroscience at Virginia Tech’s Clinical Neuroscience in Practice course is no ordinary class.

It offers undergraduate students the opportunity to experience the world of a neurosurgeon, both in the classroom and the operating room.

In class, students receive lectures from residents and attending physicians from Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital and get to ask questions and see real-life clinical cases and treatments.

Students go into an operating room to watch brain and spine surgery – scrubs on, notebooks in hand – at Carilion Roanoke. Students can also follow residents on patient rounds and stay two nights “on-call” to witness medical emergency care first-hand.

The experiences are one of a kind.

“I keep telling the students every single time we come here, this is not normal, you are seeing a neurosurgery team opening their world to undergraduates,” said Harry Sontheimer, I.D. Wilson Chair and professor of neuroscience and executive director of the School of Neuroscience, part of the Virginia Tech College of Science.

The neuroscience course is a collaboration between Virginia Tech and Roanoke-based Carilion Clinic, which already has resulted in the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute.

Eighteen students are enrolled in the spring 2017 Clinical Neuroscience in Practice class. Among them is Amy Wells, of Melbourne, Florida, a senior double majoring in psychology and neuroscience in the College of Science, and Tariq Ayubi, of South Riding, Virginia, a junior double majoring in biological sciences and biochemistry in the College of Science and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, respectively.

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