HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) College of Nursing is once again welcoming first graders to campus. For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hosting its “Let’s Pretend Hospital” event for local schools.

The students are welcomed inside the UAH College of Nursing’s Simulation & Learning Innovation Center. Inside, the classrooms that are typically used for simulations, have been decorated in a kid-friendly way.

Each room is set up to replicate an important area of a hospital, like an X-Ray room, an operating room, and the emergency room.

The purpose of the event is to ease children’s fears when it comes to hospitals.

“When I was a kid, when I went to the hospital, I hated the hospital, I couldn’t stand it, especially the ER,” UAH Nursing student, Riley Powell told News 19.

Powell said it’s important to put kids at ease about medical situations, so they aren’t scared if they ever have to go to the hospital.

“Letting them know, hey we’re here to fix the problem, we’re not here to be scary,” Powell said.

In the “emergency room” students learned about how casts are applied and removed.

“Typically with kids, what we see is broken bones,” UAH Clinical Assistant Professor, Dr. Melissa Foster told News 19.

“So we show them a cast cutter because that is usually a scary thing, and so now they’re not as scared to have that cast off,” Foster said.

This is the 34th year the UAH College of Nursing has put on the event, and Dr. Foster said it is rewarding to know the impact it has on kids in the community.

“We get reports every year from Huntsville Hospital nurses and physicians, saying that maybe a child had to come in and get their appendix out and mom and dad were all worried, but the kid was like hey I went to Let’s Pretend Hospital, I’ve got this,” Foster said.

It also exposes young children to potential careers in the nursing industry. With this being the 34th year of the event, Foster explained they’ve even had UAH Nursing students take part, who once took part as a first grader.

“Every year we’ll have some students that attended Let’s Pretend Hospital when they were in first grade,” Foster said. “I’ve even had students that said they decided as they were going through “Let’s Pretend” that they wanted to be a nurse and that they wanted to come to UAH.”

Students from different Madison County area school districts will filter through the “Let’s Pretend Hospital” through the end of the week. Foster said they anticipate 2,500 students will come through this year.

The UAH Nursing students that participate in the event are all seniors and are set to graduate in May.