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Applications open for the 2017 International Human Cadaver Prosection Program

Volunteers will assist in preparing gross anatomy donors as part of unique medical education program; deadline to apply is April 10

Wednesday Mar 08, 2017


The International Human Cadaver Prosection Program (IHCPP) at the Indiana University School of Medicine – Northwest – Gary (IUSM-NW-G) is now accepting applications for its 2017 session. This hands-on medical education program, the only one of its kind in the country, allows students and working professionals, including non-healthcare professionals, the opportunity to learn anatomy and radiology by working in the medical school’s gross anatomy laboratory.

The volunteers will work alongside medical students and faculty, practicing physicians and other professionals to ready the body donors for the fall 2017 gross anatomy classes. The physical process of prosection includes the removal of donors’ skin and body fat to expose organs, muscles and other anatomical structures.

This year’s program is scheduled for July 25-28 in the Dunes Medical/Professional Building on the campus of Indiana University Northwest. Volunteers who are accepted into the IHCPP program will be asked to attend a series of preparatory classes in June, including an anatomy-research and hands-on clinical session. In July, volunteers will also have the opportunity to assist with the radiography of the medical donors.

The program will open with a suturing workshop, followed by a prosthetics and orthotic limb workshop. Attendees will review a case study analysis of real orthotic and prosthetic patients and gain a hands-on understanding of the anatomical evaluation and casting process. An orthopedic workshop will allow participants to perform a total knee replacement using the same surgical instruments and techniques used in the modern orthopedic operative theater. Participants will gain hands-on experience and work with surgical skills trainers in the orthopedic field. Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits will be available to workshop participants.

Volunteers will also have the opportunity in July to assist and observe as this year’s body donors undergo x-rays, ultrasounds, high-resolution CT scans, and MRIs, with the cooperation and assistance of Methodist Hospitals Imaging Services at the hospital’s Merrillville campus. Use of these imaging techniques provides detailed images of the body donors that prosectors and medical students are able to use as aids for learning and dissection.

Applicants for the IHCPP need not be medical professional or pre-medical students to participate. Prior participants have included students from a variety of fields, including pre-med, pre-vet, nursing, radiological technology, and mortuary-science students, and undergraduate and graduate students from other disciplines, as well as teachers, attorneys, lab technicians, veterinarians, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs), just to name a few.  

Application materials must be received no later than April 10, 2017. Accepted participants will be announced near April 30.

The program, now in its 18th year, is led and coordinated by Ernest Talarico, Ph.D., associate professor of anatomy and cell biology and site director for human structure at IUSM-NW-G. Talarico’s innovative approach to gross anatomy education is focused on emphasizing the dignity and humanity of the body donors who become his student doctors’ first patients.

As part of “Talarico Protocol for Human Gross Anatomy” (TPHGA), medical students and prosectors are given the opportunity to correspond with, and sometimes even meet the families of the donors they work with during their first-year anatomy class. It’s an experience, Talarico said, that can have a fundamental impact on their future interactions with patients.     

Participants who complete the program receive a certificate of completion and certification for work with biohazards and blood-borne pathogens.

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