This year’s 17-week Anatomy Lab included an introductory session in geriatrics to “increase students’ awareness of the aging body and the importance of taking care of seniors in medicine,” Dr. Dangiolo said. By studying cadavers, students learned the role of aging and disease on the body’s systems, and how lifestyle – such as sun exposure – affects the body over a lifetime. During lab, faculty members also asked students to consider how ailments like arthritis impacted their first patients’ daily lives before they died.

The three students said participants at the geriatrics conference were eager to learn how a new medical school brought innovation to its curriculum. “As a new college of medicine, we have the ability to make change a lot faster,” Christina said. “Older medical schools said this was something they would never be able to do. They were asking a lot of questions about how Anatomy Lab was set up as a medical mystery — we don’t know what our first patients died of but have to discover that through the 17 weeks. The other schools were saying, ‘Why didn’t we think of that?'”

The College of Medicine presentation was one of five top geriatric education projects that conference organizers chose to be presented.

While at the conference, the UCF team shared information about the new medical school and the students, who have formed a Geriatric Interest Group (GIG), learned ways to encourage others to be interested in geriatric medicine.

Malgorzata and Reid said they became interested in geriatric care in part from their volunteer efforts with local hospice organizations. “I loved to listen to their stories,” Malgorzata said of the hospice patients. “They always had such words of wisdom to share.”