Archive for tag: anatomy lab

The New Anatomy Lab

This week, I'll give a bit of information on the upgrades happening here on the Illinois campus of NUHS. We have a new anatomy lab under construction that will be ready this fall! I have included before and after photos (thanks to Tom Rohner, director of Facilities). 

One of the unique features of the Basic Sciences program at NUHS, in my opinion, is that each student spends an entire calendar year with the cadavers in the anatomy lab. In these courses, students learn the human body first-hand with cadavers from humans who have passed on, yet desire their remains be used for learning and helping others going forward.

Each cadaver in the anatomy lab has a team of not more than six students who are responsible for the dissection, care and preparation of their cadaver for any lab practicals, learning exercises, etc. Each student is expected to learn proper dissection techniques, work as a team member, and help their fellow classmates with maintenance and cleanup.

2013-07-17_old Lab Before Demo
Old anatomy lab prior to demolition

Our old lab was the original lab from early 1960s along with period appropriate equipment and a small "theatre-like" area for lecture. The tables, I believe, could have been display pieces in the Smithsonian under the history of surgery and dissection categories. The entire room had a distinct "mad scientist steam-punk lab" feel to it with the old tile work, antiquated diagrams, ancient specimen jars and tight areas. I enjoyed the old lab though as the sense of history and number of excellent docs who had learned in these facilities crossed my mind many times. 

2013-07-17_old Lab Theater
Lecture area of the old anatomy lab

On a side note, I remember one late summer/early fall evening studying for a lab practical during a thunderstorm. Lightning flashed, the thunder rolled, rattling the windows, and the power went out! There was only a dim glow from the streetlights with the silhouettes of the uncovered cadavers we were studying as companions. Mind you, we were in the far corner of the darkest section of the lab. One breath, two breaths, three breaths--then the emergency lights kicked on! We all started laughing and couldn't stop! Needless to say, study ended around that time. We cleaned up, made sure all was secure, and trudged home through the rain to our cottages in our small Transylvanian village (or so it seemed on that night). :)

Well, those times are no more!  Here's a bit about our new anatomy lab!

  • Each dissecting table with be clamshell covered with "down draft" circulation. This means that fans are pulling air from the cadavers down through the table to a filtered exhaust, away from the pupils.
  • All tables are stainless steel for easy and complete cleanup.
  • The entire air circulation system for the room has been completely replaced ensuring fresh air and consistent climate control for the anatomy lab.
  • The entire lab will be wired for enhanced audio for 'on the fly' instruction from the instructor to all tables at the same time.  Before our instructors traveled from table to table and had to split their time amongst students.
  • Monitors at each table to help students compare the instructor's actions with their dissection techniques in real time.
  • A small group classroom area with SMART board technology to help instructors give more specific instruction for the dissecting teams.

2013-07-17_new Lab Construction
Construction underway on the new anatomy lab

The new anatomy lab will be much more open, airy and technologically advanced.  I feel this is key as teaching methods evolve from chalkboards to SMART boards, allowing students to download saved lectures, diagrams and talks for review later.

I still wouldn't change my experience with the old lab. I made a lot of friends, learned immense amounts of information that I never thought I would retain from Dr. Kahn, Dr. Beck, Dr. Darby and Dr. Joseph. I am forever grateful to the human beings who shared their remains so that my colleagues and I could take knowledge forward and help others to heal in the future.