IUSM-Northwest hosts unique hands-on anatomy workshops

June 25, 2015

The International Human Cadaver Prosection Program, now underway at IU School of Medicine-Northwest is the only initiative in the nation allowing non-physician and non-medical student participants to actively volunteer in the school's gross anatomy laboratory.

Fifty individuals -- from across the United States, as well as Argentina, Nigeria and Mexico -- were chosen to participate in this summer's program. Other participants include 12 student radiographers and ultrasonographers, and 20 instructional faculty. In sessions through July 30, they will gain detailed knowledge of human anatomy, medical imaging and wound suturing, as well as a greater understanding of tissue histology, embryology, prosthetics, orthotics and orthopedics medical specialties. Program participants will prepare the body donors for the fall 2015 gross anatomy class by removing the donors’ skin and body fat to expose organs, muscles and other anatomical structures.

This is the 16th year for the program, which is directed by Ernest Talarico, Ph.D., IUSM-Northwest associate director of medical education and associate professor of human gross anatomy and embryology.

Unique bonds and the “first patient” philosophy

IUSM-Northwest is hosting the International Human Cadaver Prosection Program for the 16th year. It's the only program in the nation in which non-physician and non-medical student participants can actively volunteer in the school's gross anatomy laboratory. | Photo By IUSM-Northwest

The IHCPP is anchored in teaching gratitude, respect and professionalism. In addition to learning basic anatomy, participants celebrate human dignity. Following the program's protocol, which is based on the Clinical Anatomy Journal, participants treat donors in the laboratory with the same dignity and consideration that living patients expect from their physicians. Participants are reminded that these donors have essentially become “first patients” -- not only for them, but for the medical students who follow in the fall.

Additionally, summer participants are given the opportunity to correspond with families of the donors. According to Dr. Talarico, it's an experience that can have a fundamental impact on participants’ future interaction with patients.

In fact, some of this year's participants are involved in the program because of their unique connections to IHCPP, such as one who learned about the program because a family member had been a donor. Through the experience, she has decided to donate her own body to the program when she passes.