Cadaver lab brings Whitworth up to par

The new cadaver lab in Robinson Science Hall is a huge step forward for Whitworth. “We are now able to teach Anatomy and Physiology the way it should be taught,” said Matt Silvers, assistant professor of health science.

The lab, which has been in the works for many years, allows students to learn in a more hands-on manner as opposed to through books or, as it was previously taught, the study of cats.

“It used to be incredibly abstract but now it’s all very real,” said junior Kendra Greenwood, a teaching assistant for the lab. “You get to see how every muscle moves, looks and feels.”

That is a common thought, said senior Caitlyn Davis, a student in this semester’s A and P course.

“Now that we have a cadaver, it allows for more accurate knowledge of how the body works,” Davis said. “Students will be better equipped for understanding human anatomy.”

Some people may find fault with having this sort of lab on a Christian campus, Silvers said. But he went on to say that the biology department believes the university needs this new way of studying because of Whitworth’s Christian viewpoint.

“Studying the human body through the use of cadavers will help students understand and better appreciate God’s most amazing creation,” according to a press release prepared by the health sciences department. “Additionally, the study of anatomy through the use of cadavers will help students understand human form and function, and better prepare students for health professions and graduate programs.”

The department is stressing the need for respect when handling the cadavers, Greenwood said.

“One thing that we have to keep in mind is how sacred it is and how respectful we need to be,” Greenwood said. “They make sure to push that onto us so we understand it. It’s a very sacred learning environment.”

It is incredible that someone was willing to give up their body so that she can better study and, therefore, help other people, she said.

“It’s hard when you see personal things like painted nails and makeup,” Greenwood said.

Davis said the teaching assistants and professors are doing more each week to get them used to working with the cadavers, and she feels blessed to be able to work in the lab.

“It’s extremely helpful to have,” Davis said. “Because when you’re trying to apply what you’re learning, it’s easier to see things on a cadaver instead of a book or even a cat.”

The cadaver lab is a valuable learning environment, and doesn’t have as many special laws and regulations as one might think.

“You don’t need any special certificates or licenses,” Silvers said. “There are the usual lab necessities such as ventilation and other basic requirements, but nothing just for a cadaver lab. It’s actually incredibly easy to have one.”

He did say, however, that there are many laws concerning the handling and disposal of human remains that the university is taking very seriously and following carefully.

“I studied the laws from the ground up so I could be prepared to work in the lab,” Silvers said.

One of the biggest pros to having the lab at Whitworth is the fact that it allows for more chances of inter-departmental cooperation.

“It puts most of the health science faculty under one roof for the first time; nursing, athletic training, health science,” according to the press release. “We have been in three different buildings until now. Our only lab will be the anatomy and physiology lab (two other labs in remodeled Eric Johnston). This move gives our department identity, both geographically for students, and logistically (and relationally) as faculty.”

Beyond that, though, the cumulative impact on students will be great, Silvers said. Students and professors alike are excited for the new opportunity.

“There are some students who should have taken Anatomy and Physiology last year but waited until this year so they could use the cadaver lab,” Silvers said.

Davis is one of those students. The reason she waited to take the course was because she would be able to learn in a more hands-on environment.

“It’s awesome when he takes the deltoid [muscle] and pulls it back so you can see the layers underneath,” Davis said. “It’s really helpful.”

Although the lab will improve the education given to health science students, it is by no means ahead of the times.

“I don’t want to make it sound cutting-edge,” Silvers said. “We’re one of the last colleges to get such a lab.”

The lab brings Whitworth into the league of many other colleges and universities that are its rivals as far as health science programs, allowing students to learn in a hands-on manner and delve into God’s creation as they haven’t been able to before, Silvers said.

“I feel like the world is at my fingertips,” Greenwood said.


By Ira McIntosh

Photo By Chrissy Roach

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