Jennifer Parsons wants Central Floridians to know how they can shape the hearts and minds of future healers — through the Willed-Body Program at the UCF College of Medicine.

Parsons, director of Anatomical Facilities at the medical school, is spreading the word through talks with local groups and unveiled the outreach plan to colleagues November 29.

“I get calls every day about the program,” she said.

UCF is one of three medical schools in Florida that is state-approved to receive willed bodies to train medical students. Until a year ago, people who wanted to will their bodies to medical science had to have their remains sent to the University of Florida in Gainesville or the University of Miami. Through its approved receiving sites, the Anatomical Board of Florida provides donated bodies for the training of physicians, dentists, physician assistants, and other health workers.

“The procedure for donating a body is simple,” Parsons said.

A donor, who must be 18 or older, fills out a dedication form stating his or her wishes. Copies of “Instructions to Survivors” should be given to relatives and close friends so that the donor’s wishes are known. The donor or family then contacts a funeral home to arrange for handling of the body and transportation to Orlando. Funeral-home expenses are paid by the family, but the Anatomical Board assumes costs for storage, cremation and final disposal of the cremains.

Bodies are kept for up to two years for medical education and research, Parsons said. Bodies are then cremated, and the ashes returned to the family, or the family may choose to have the ashes spread over the Gulf of Mexico.

Individuals who donate their bodies make a real difference in the education of medical students, said Dr. Andrew Payer, professor of anatomy and director of the College of Medicine’s Willed-Body Program.

“Computer modeling can’t account for all the differences among human bodies,” Dr. Payer said, adding the Willed-Body Program “provides a richer learning experience for students. “

Details about the willed-body program can be found at med.ucf.edu/giving/willed-body-program/. Groups interested in having Parsons talk with them can contact her at 407.266.1142 or [email protected]