Gaining the Advantage: The Cadaver Lab

As individuals, our preferred way of learning can be as varied as the methods we use. But simply learning is not always enough. Success in a class, and more importantly in a professional career, is related to our ability to apply what we learn.

As faculty in the Department of Kinesiology, we strongly believe in experiential learning opportunities as a way to either make or strengthen the connections between coursework and professional application. That’s why we include internships, research, and laboratory expectations as part of our curriculum in the exercise science major.

One such experiential learning opportunity is the cadaver lab as part of our Human Anatomy course. Frequently institutions combine the study of human function (physiology) and structure (anatomy) into one large course. At Hope, we have chosen to split these courses into separate classes in an attempt to thoroughly explore each topic in more depth and breadth. The idea of the Human Anatomy Cadaver Lab was initiated to meet this goal and to that end an agreement was struck with the Michigan State Willed Body Program to provide whole body cadavers for educational study.

The Schaap Science Center is home to the Cadaver Lab.

Serving students in exercise science, nursing, and other pre-health programs, the cadaver lab is run by kinesiology professors Drs. Kirk Brumels and Kevin Cole. Along with selected students who help prepare and facilitate study with the cadavers, Brumels and Cole experience first hand the benefits of such a program and love to hear from students about their experience.

Sutton Williams, a 2014 graduate with a major in exercise science and current doctoral candidate in Human Anatomy at the University of Mississippi, believes that his career choice was directly influenced by the opportunity to study cadavers at Hope. Sutton writes:

“The cadaver laboratory at Hope was certainly a major highlight of my undergraduate education; being able to work so closely with faculty members during my time in the lab was an incredible experience. It not only fostered my fascination for the human body, it also provided me with an unparalleled educational experience for the learning of human anatomy. Without the cadaver lab I definitely would not be in the position I am today.

The cadaver lab is one of the most incredible and important educational experiences a pre-health related professional student can have. After working with health related professional students over the past four years during my doctoral work at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, I can say with certainty that exposure to a cadaver laboratory before entering medical school (or any other health related professional school) offers students a great advantage going forward in their professional studies.”

Sutton’s experience is not unique. Many graduates write back to share the benefit of the opportunities afforded them at Hope and especially in the cadaver lab. Working with and studying from cadavers definitely sets the standards high for our students and allows them to succeed in their chosen career or graduate programs. Rachael Rebhan ‘14 graduated with a major in exercise science and is currently a student in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Rachel shares the following related to the privilege and advantage of her experiential learning experience with cadavers while at Hope:

“While working to earn my DPT at Mayo Clinic, I found myself – more often than not – thinking back and being so thankful for the academic privileges Hope College had offered to me in the preceding years. Hope College set me up for success in a way I did not know or appreciate at the time. I didn’t realize just how many opportunities I came across due to the generous and giving community/alumni, and how those would come to fruition until I was faced with the hardest academic rigor in my professional career while working for my doctorate. In particular, the Cadaver Lab allowed for a skill level that most undergraduate colleges only dream to be able to provide – it put me ahead by almost an entire semester and gave me a knowledge base that my graduate professors and fellow classmates recognized. I thank Hope College for that.”

Like Rachel and Sutton, we too thank Hope College for supporting this program as we explore the “fearfully and wonderfully made” human body through lecture and lab experiences. We hope that you come join us. See you in the lab!

 

Did you take Human Anatomy?  Tell us about your experience, we’d love to hear how it has impacted your studies and/or career path!