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8095 Innovation Park Drive, Fairfax, VA 22031

The Dome Experience


group in domeThe Dome Experience program is a unique educational offering that invites community members to witness open-heart surgeries firsthand while learning how healthy – and not-so-healthy – lifestyles can impact their own heart health.

Unfortunately, The Dome Experience was suspended due to the pandemic and has not yet resumed. We will post additional information when the program returns.

The Dome Experience: Pre-reading Material

My Dome Experience

By Jamie Gentille, Walden University

Once we arrived at the Dome, we took a pre-test to test our knowledge of heart disease, health effects and risk factors. After the test, a cardiac nurse talked to us before we observed the actual surgery.

I observed a coronary artery bypass surgery, during which the doctors graft the saphenous vein from the leg onto the coronary artery. It was fascinating. There was a sixth grade class in the Dome also, observing. They were in awe.

The procedure lasted over three hours. The nurse explained what the surgeons were doing step by step. She did a great job relating the surgical procedures to behaviors. The patient had been a smoker for 20 years, so the nurse talked about how smoking affects cardiovascular health.

The patient was also significantly overweight. You could see exactly how much fatty tissue, called adipose tissue, that the surgeons had to cut through to get to both the saphenous vein and the chest cavity.

The nurse passed around vials of saturated fat that were equivalent to different foods such as potato chips, hamburgers and candy bars. Many of the kids were shocked and said that they would never eat those foods again. All the teaching methods were concrete and truly promoted our understanding of how behaviors can affect health.

After the surgery, we took a post-test to assess how much our health knowledge improved as a result of the program. I think the Dome Program provides very tangible health education information. To actually witness the surgical procedure really drove home the teaching points. The Dome is a great educational resource.