A new Human Gross Anatomy/Neuroscience course in the College of Health Professions and Sciences will give undergraduate students the unique opportunity to learn about the human body and all of its systems through use of cadavers.

The use of the cadavers is especially important to understanding the functions of different systems in the body, and how all things are connected. For example, seeing a vein, a nerve and a tendon amplifies the function of these important structures and helps students to better understand the nuances of these structures after seeing how and where they connect in the body, and even the differences in fragility.

“Learning from cadavers is not a typical experience at the undergraduate level,” says Jeff Stout, professor and Founding Director of the School of Kinesiology and Physical Therapy, the school that is offering the class.

The first class will be offered in Spring 2022 for students who meet the prerequisite requirements. Registration is open, and the course is limited to the first 60 qualified students. To enroll, students must fill out the request form.

The course, Gross Anatomy/Neuroscience I (PHT3112 and Gross Anatomy/Neuroscience I Lab – PHT3112L) will consist of a paired lecture and laboratory that must be taken at the same time, totaling five credit hours. Students must have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher, and an “A” or “B” in ZOO 3733C, ZOO 3736C or BSC 2093C/BSC2085C to enroll.

“This program is a first for CHPS students,” says Clinical Associate Professor of Anatomy Jacqueline Flores-Otero, the instructor of the course. “This exceptional course will provide students with a strong platform over which they can continue to build their professional career, and whether students decide to continue in the field of medicine or other graduate programs like physical therapy, physician assistant, anatomy education, occupational therapy or any other health-related area, this course will prepare them for success.”

On the first day of class Flores lays out the expectations of working with human cadavers, including the ethics, confidentiality, respect and humility required for the course.

“While it can be initially unsettling for the students to learn from human bodies, it helps students to achieve a deeper level of understanding about human anatomy, the function of its structures and associated pathologies or diseases,” says Flores, who has taught the course at different educational levels. “The more time they spend in the lab, the more comfortable they get. Once they understand that these people donated their bodies so they could learn from them, they understand the significance, the honor and the blessing of working with them. It is an experience that will stay with them forever.”

Flores says she is looking forward to introducing UCF’s undergraduates to a deeper level of learning and appreciation of the human body as the course helps serve as a stepping stone toward their professional careers.

“In the lab, students get to truly live several ‘spark’ moments, when they first encounter the lab experience, when they touch a human’s brain or heart or when they get to see the face of their silent lab teacher (cadaver),” Flores says. “It’s something we value during our time in the lab.”