By Wendy Sarubbi | October 27, 2014 1:29 pm

High-tech renovations – including larger-than-life medical imaging of hearts, livers and kidneys – are improving the College of Medicine’s already state-of-the-art Anatomy Lab.  The renovations, finished just in time to welcome first-year students to the Structure and Function module, include new touch-screen HD monitors and the ability of faculty members to use their iPads to project a pathology at one Anatomy Lab table to every screen.

“Everything we do is imaging,” said Dr. Andrew Payer, professor of anatomy who designed the lab. “We realize that the world is constantly changing, and we want to prepare for the future. These renovations make the imaging so much better for teaching. We have a state-of-the-art lab that people from all over the country come and admire. This is a benchmark for other medical schools to follow suit.”

The lab now contains a massive 80-inch touchscreen monitor in the center of the room that allows faculty and students to compare multiple anatomical images at the same time with stunning detail. With the technology, Dr. Payer can show students a huge photo of an actual human heart next to an actual CT scan next to a digital drawing. By comparing the images, students can see a “textbook” heart and compare it to the heart of their cadaver. Dr. Payer can make notes on the screen and project the images to each of the 23 of screens over each anatomy station. Students can save screen shots for their own study and for adding their own notes.

By working with Apple, the College of Medicine’s Health Information Technology team, led by Associate Vice President Jerry Aubert, was able to use the latest technology for medical education. “I’ve been involved in designing a few other anatomy labs in my career, but nothing has come close to what we have accomplished here,” Aubert said.  “The technology is amazing but what really puts us ahead of the pack is the way we have integrated the technology with pedagogy.  Our design gives the students the ability to view multiple images and to interact with the monitors much like they do with their iPads.”

The lab has always had computer monitors over each station, but they have been replaced with touch screen devices that offer the latest in high-definition images and feature a faster operating system under the hood. Students can plug their own iPads into the monitor to compare images and information. In addition, each monitor is now on a cantilever stand mounted to the ceiling.  Much like an adjustable overhead light at the dentist’s office, the new setup allows the monitors to be easily moved out of the lab’s walkway and closer to the table for easier access.

Dr. Payer can now walk around the lab with his iPad and take photos of unique pathologies and then project those images to every screen in the room as a teaching tool. No longer do dozens of students have to cram around an individual table struggling to see a pathology. They can look up from their stations and get a bigger-than-life, detailed look.

“One of things Dr. Payer asked for when we were designing the lab was the ability to be ‘untethered’ as he put it,” Aubert said. “We were able to implement technology that allows Dr. Payer to walk around the lab and control the content being delivered through his iPad.”

Students who have seen the before-and-after transition of the lab understand how helpful the updates are. Fourth-year M.D. student Mohammad Jaffar has worked with Dr. Payer in the Anatomy Lab since his first year of medical school, and says the renovations “emphasize the dedication of the school to technology, and providing their students with the best tools available to aid in their learning process.”

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