students watching a procedure from the Dome
The 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.


We are currently working to fix an I.T. issue that has caused a few registered participants to receive an Outlook calendar invite with a different time than their originally scheduled time.

With VERY FEW EXCEPTIONS, groups coming for the Dome Experience arrive at 7 a.m. (and scheduled delays are almost never later than 8 a.m.).

If you have received an automatic Outlook message stating that your arrival time is markedly different than the normal time, this is probably a system error. You will always be personally contacted by a scheduler if your time is different than the usual 7 a.m. arrival time.

If you have a scheduled reservation and need to inquire about the time, please email us at
Each year more than 4,000 participants (ranging in age from teens to seniors) witness lifesaving cardiac surgeries performed by Inova's heart experts in the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute "Dome," a special viewing platform above the operating room with direct views of procedures. A cardiac nurse educator introduces participants to the surgical process, narrates the surgery and uses realistic props to bring to life an educational lecture on healthy living.

The Dome Experience program is a free community service offered by Inova. The program is especially popular with middle- and high-school-aged students, but other community members are welcome as well.


Due to the extremely high volume of requests, please be patient as we work to accommodate everyone fairly. You will be contacted when we have found a potential visit date for yourself or your organization.

Request a Reservation

Rules of the Dome

The cases presented in the Dome are real, lifesaving surgeries. As such, the Dome is not to be used for a social gathering or casual drop-in. Our wait lists are very long, so do not take a Dome session for granted – sign up only if you are certain you can come, and let us know immediately if you know you cannot attend.

Due to the nature of healthcare and live surgery schedules, a Dome session may be cancelled without notice due to surgical schedules, hospital emergencies, or individual patient cases. As such, teachers are NOT authorized to make the Dome a required part of their school curriculum because we cannot guarantee enough dates to accommodate all the classes who wish to attend.

Schools, adult-learning programs, and any non-Inova organizations are NOT authorized to advertise the Dome in their print or online course lists.   

Because a very small and dedicated staff at Inova provides free access to the Dome as a unique community service, we must ask all visitors to respect our hospital, our rules, and our patients' lives.

Fast facts about the Dome

  • Sessions are four hours long.
  • Especially popular with middle school and high school students (must be at least seventh grade).
  • ALL students including high school students must be accompanied by an adult.
  • The Dome is also open to groups of adult visitors.
  • Maximum group size is 25 including all visitors and chaperones.
  • The Dome Experience is free.

Contact The Dome Experience

Inova Heart and Vascular Institute
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, VA 22042