This week, nearly 1,400 first graders from North Alabama are going through what can be the most terrifying experience for a child: ending up in the hospital.
But, they're learning about the process amidst all kinds of friendly faces and characters.
It's perhaps the most fun a child may ever have learning about what can be a very scary environment.
The first graders are from Athens, Decatur, Morgan and Limestone County schools. They've been lining up all week at Calhoun Community College to be admitted to the Pretend Hospital, tailored just for them.
"It's all kid friendly," said Deb Miller, a faculty member of the Nursing College. "It's all child appropriate and it's a fun way to learn how not to be afraid of the hospital."
Health Sciences students walk the children through the experience, making sure they laugh, dance, and cheer along with their favorite cartoon characters.
The children learn important information in magical rooms playfully geared towards medicine. They start with:
"The safety room, where they learn how to wash their hands and fire safety," said Miller. "They then leave and then move into admissions, so they learn how to be admitted, they go to the xray, the lab, the emergency room, the patient room, they even go to the operating room and then they do a little dental hygiene."
New this year to Pretend Hospital is Kidcheck, where kids can go and get their vital statistics taken.
"We do height, and weight and blood pressure, eye screening, hearing screenings," said Michele Cobbs, another faculty member of the Nursing College. "It's just a little extra that we do this year to help the kids understand other things that are involved with being in the hospital."
That information can be shared with parents and school nurses.
After a thorough visit to each room, the kids then get to be discharged.
That's when the staff gets their own diagnosis from the kids on how healthy this idea is.
"They seem to have a better understanding and a lot less anxiety about if they had to go to the hospital," said Cobbs.
This is the 12th year for Calhoun Community College to host the Pretend Hospital.