By Wendy Sarubbi | April 15, 2011 1:42 pm

Stetson University undergraduates interested in health sciences recently studied at the College of Medicine’s Anatomy Lab and said the lesson not only taught them about the intricacies of the human body, but also helped them better understand aging, death and dying.

The educational field trip was organized by Andrew Payer, professor of Anatomy at the College of Medicine, and Guenevere Rae, laboratory coordinator at Stetson’s Department of Integrative Health Science. Students presented Dr. Payer with a poster containing their feelings about being in an Anatomy Lab for the first time.

“Dr. Payer, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in my first anatomy cadaver lab,” wrote student Stephanie Lahens, who is interning at a physical therapy clinic. “It’s one thing to learn about anatomy in a book, but it’s entirely different when you are able to learn hands on.”

Student Lindsay Jowers wrote that the lab reminded her “how the human body is truly a beautiful and amazing piece of art.” She said Dr. Payer’s lecture “also opened my eyes to the difficult decision of willing one’s body and how we too often may lose sight of the precious life we have today.”

Ms. Rae said that while books, models and virtual cadavers provide some value, the students’ ability to see organs, muscles and connective tissue in three dimensions and to actually feel the subtle differences in the texture of veins and arteries is invaluable to learning. “With virtual models, there is no variability,” she added. “Anatomy Lab allows the students to see different body types, sizes, ages and pathologies. They get to see how unbelievably unique our bodies are.”

Equally important, was the fact that the lesson gave students the opportunity to deal with their emotions about death and dying and “to realize how connected we all are,” Ms. Rae said. Several of the undergraduates had recently lost family members. “They felt very positive after being in the College of Medicine Anatomy Lab,” Ms. Rae said. “They were comforted by the sense of respect and gratitude that everyone showed for people who had donated their bodies to science.”

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