IUN Cadaver Program Offers 'First Patients' 

Jul 14
2012

The program is the only one of its kind, inviting non-physician and non-medical student participants the opportunity to become active volunteers and work with cadavers and imaging technology.

Some are medical students, and have traveled far to participate: third-year medical students from Universidad Europea de Madrid — Roberto Sanchez Sanz, 19, and Fernando Garcia Prieto, 21 — are participating in the program and also job-shadowing doctors at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Hobart.

“Coming here for just four days is tough, so the rotating really makes it worth it,” Sanz said.

“By having a learning experience in the states, it’s seen as having a greater deal of experience and a competitive edge,” Prieto said.

Both plan on practicing back home in Spain, but the time spent in the United States is an invaluable learning experience, Sanz said.

“Now we know how, more or less, how medicine works in the States,” Sanz said.

While they have worked with cadavers before, Prieto said it’s important for them to improve their diagnostic and imaging technology skills.

Studying in the United States also affords Prieto and Sanz the opportunity to learn customs of other countries and how to adapt. When they complete their degrees, they will be able to practice medicine in any European country, which all have different customs and mannerisms.

It’s important for doctors to know the best way to interact with patients so as not to offend, Sanz said.

The six cadavers being used for the students all have “unique and really interesting” stories, he said, and the students will be able to write papers and submit them as educational, medical cases for the medical community.

“Part of the program is to introduce people to anatomy,” said Ernest Talarico, associate professor of medical education and course director of human gross anatomy and embryology at Indiana University Northwest in Gary. “The other part is to introduce them to careers in basic science.”

By the end of the summer session, the students are “not experts, but they’re very good,” Talarico said.

Something the course emphasizes is the importance of the cadaver, which Talarico calls “first patients,” to demonstrate to the students the gift they are receiving. Talarico said the students occasionally communicate with the donor families about progress and always treat the cadavers with the utmost respect.

“Our philosophy is different,” he said. “The involvement of families allows students to learn more about the patient and what it means to be a physician.”

Courtesy of the Post-Tribune.

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