Volume 34, Issue S1 p. 1-1
Anatomy
Free Access

“A Whole New Perspective on How the Body Fits Together” – An Evaluation of a Cadaver Lab Experience for High School and Undergraduate Students

Andrew Cale

Andrew Cale

Indiana University School of Medicine

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Jessica Byram

Jessica Byram

Indiana University School of Medicine

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Naomi Schmalz

Naomi Schmalz

Indiana University School of Medicine

Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine

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First published: 17 April 2020
Citations: 1

Abstract

Background

Since 2014, the Center for Anatomy and Physiology Education at Indiana University School of Medicine – Indianapolis has hosted interactive human cadaver lab tours for local high school and undergraduate students. During these graduate student-led tours, touring students observe human anatomy on prosections and with isolated organs. Similar educational outreach initiatives have been shown to benefit adolescents by improving health literacy and encouraging interests in healthcare careers.

Aim

To evaluate students’ perceptions of the anatomy lab tours and their impact on students’ interests in healthcare careers.

Methods

Between April and December 2018, touring students (n=261) were invited to complete pre- and post-tour surveys evaluating their past experiences with cadaver labs, tour expectations, career interests, and additional thoughts and feelings regarding the tour. Pre-surveys were paper-based and completed in-person, while post-surveys were administered online via REDCap and completed within one week of the tour. Responses were aggregated into pre- and post-tour groups and analyzed using thematic analysis. This study was granted exempt status from the IRB at Indiana University (#1802755251).

Results

Of the 261 students who completed pre-tour surveys, 204 (78%) completed the post-tour survey. Before the tour, students anticipated learning about human anatomy (52%) and expected to only be able to see (and not feel) a cadaver (66%). Most students expressed excitement (80%) or nervousness (45%). A few students viewed the lab tour as an opportunity to test if they could see themselves in a healthcare career (4%). After the tour, most students indicated that the tour either met (77%) or exceeded (22%) their expectations. Students found the lab tour to be educational and interesting. They were surprised by the opportunity to interact with the cadaver (23%) and by the pre-dissected appearance of the cadaver (26%). Numerous students (41%) also expressed an increased interest in healthcare careers after the lab tour.

Conclusion

Overall, students perceived the lab tours as engaging, educational experiences that not only improved their anatomical knowledge, but also reinforced or increased their interest in healthcare careers. Academic institutions interested in positively impacting their local students can implement a cadaver lab tour program by sharing access to their in-house human cadaver lab and recruiting instructors to share their time and anatomy expertise.