students in the dome Have a question? Please review the FAQ listed below.

Q: Who can visit the Dome?
A: A large percentage of The Dome Experience participants are middle school and high school students. However, the program is also open to adults.

Participants must be in 7th grade or older. We expect parents and/or teachers to determine whether their children or students are well-suited for viewing a live surgery, which can be graphic.

Q: When is the Dome open?
A: The Dome is typically open to the public (by reservation only) on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Each reservation starts at 7:15 a.m. and lasts until the surgery is over, which is usually around noon. The Dome is closed on most major holidays.

Q: Once I am on the Inova Fairfax Medical Campus, where do I go?
A: The Dome is located inside the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute (IHVI) on Inova Fairfax Medical Campus at 3300 Gallows Road, Falls Church, VA 22042.

  • If you arrive in private cars, enter the campus from Gallows Road or Woodburn Road and follow the signs to the Gray parking garage on the west side of the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute building.
  • Take the stairs or elevator to the ground floor level.
  • Enter the hospital through the double doors, and walk down the hallway to the IHVI lobby. Gather your group at the large fountain in the lobby.
    • Parking is limited. Please carpool to reduce the number of parking spaces required for your group.
    • You will be given a validated parking pass before you leave the Dome.
  • A cardiac nurse will escort your group from the lobby to the Dome at 7:15 a.m. Everyone in your group must be present in the lobby and ready to go upstairs no later than 7:15 a.m. No accommodations are available for late arrivals. No latecomers can be admitted.

    NOTE: If you arrive in a school bus, the driver should drop off your group at the front entrance to Inova Heart and Vascular Institute and plan to pick your group up at the same location. There is no bus parking available on our campus. Your driver will need to come back when you are ready to leave.

Q: How do I make a reservation for a Dome Experience session?
A: The Dome Experience program is extremely popular, especially during the school year, so booking far ahead for school groups is essential. Visit our scheduling webpage for details.

Q: I can't find any available dates online. Can I join a waitlist?
A: We have discontinued The Dome Experience waitlist. Most dates are booked up to a year in advance. Please check the Inova class registration website to see whether any new dates have become available:

Q: How many people can be in my group?
A: The Dome's capacity is 25 people. Smaller groups are welcome, but smaller groups may be combined with another group or several individuals to maximize our capacity.

Since this is a free service that is open to the general public (school groups included), a reservation at the Dome is in high demand. Dates are often booked 12-18 months in advance.

Please send an email to, indicate the number of people in your group (including yourself) and the top three dates you would like to attend. We will reserve your seats based on current availability.

Q: Can my school group visit the Dome without a chaperone?
A: All school groups must be accompanied by an instructor and an adequate number of chaperones to assist with coordination and discipline. If a group arrives at the hospital without an instructor, students will be denied access to the Dome and are responsible for their own return to school.

Q: What if I have to cancel my individual or group reservation?
A: We request a minimum of four weeks to cancel a reservation so that we may accommodate others. To cancel your scheduled visit, please click on the “Contact Us” link below. Include your name, the name of your group and the date you are canceling.

Q: What if I have to cancel at the last minute?
A: In the event you must cancel your scheduled visit, please notify us as soon as possible at 703-776-8483 and

Q: How will I know if The Dome Experience is closed due to weather or other emergencies?
A: In the event that Fairfax County Public Schools are closed or delayed for any reason, including weather, the Dome program will always be canceled.

Q: Our reservation was canceled due to school closings affected by inclement weather. Are there any available dates to reschedule before the end of the school year?
A: Since most reservations are made a year in advance and we get few cancellations, it isn't always possible to provide a make-up date for your group. We do occasionally receive cancellations. However, they tend to be very last minute.

Please check the Inova class registration website to see whether any new dates have become available.

Q: Can I eat, drink or take pictures in the Dome?
A: For the privacy of the patient, we ask that no pictures be taken. No eating or drinking is allowed inside the Dome. The hospital cafeteria offers snacks and reasonably priced meals, if you wish to eat following your Dome Experience session.

Q: What is it like in the Dome?
A: A nurse will provide an overview of the program and talk about coronary artery disease risk factors before your group moves to the Dome. While you are in the Dome, your nurse will describe the surgery, talk about the team members’ roles and discuss wellness strategies. Your group will also view exhibits, surgical supplies and educational materials to enhance the learning experience.

From the viewing platform, you will look down through large windows to see the entire surgical suite. The attending surgeon is also wearing a camera, and these close-up views are displayed on four large screens positioned throughout the room.

Please visit the following link to get additional information on The Dome Experience:

Q: How do we prepare for the visit?
A: Visit our website for additional information to help prepare your group for your visit:

Please review the materials and online resources section with your students prior to your visit to enhance the experience.

Q: What is the expected behavior inside the Dome?
A: The teacher and/or adult representative of the group should use their discretion in selecting students for this experience.

While visiting the Dome, students are expected to be attentive and participate. We will ask students to leave if they behave inappropriately. Students’ behavior will determine future group eligibility for Dome participation.

For answers to additional questions, please contact us at:

Inova Heart and Vascular Institute
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
1-855-My-Inova (1-855-694-6682)

We look forward to seeing you in the Dome!