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Evangel’s new cadaver lab benefits pre-med students, and more

Published on Feb 15, 2017 by Paul K. Logsdon

• First published: Feb. 10, 2017 in the Springfield News-Leader

• That led to a feature: Feb. 14, 2017, on KOLR-10 (CBS NEWS)

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — “Students learn best from experience,” said Brittany Miller, a senior pre-med student at Evangel University. “With the new cadaver lab, we are getting experience with a real human body, and that is far beyond what can be gained from books and cats.”

A native of Ash Grove, Mo., Miller has her sights set on a career in pediatric oncology.

“I believe there will be a great advantage to being able to say on my med school applications that I have cadaver lab experience, and I served as a lab assistant in that area,” she said.

Senior biology major Cade Wilke agrees that the addition of the Cadaver-Based Anatomy/Physiology Lab was an important step for Evangel’s Department of Natural & Applied Sciences.

“Evangel is now one of the only undergrad schools of our size with a cadaver lab,” said Wilke, a Henderson, Ky., native whose goal is to become an ear, nose and throat surgeon.

“Prospective students are weighing their options between large schools with cadaver labs, versus the small class sizes and personal attention that they will experience at Evangel. Now that we have this lab, more are choosing Evangel.”

Wilke and Miller experienced this first hand, just last month, during a visit by a select group of high-achieving prospects.

“The Founder’s Scholar students who came to campus and visited the lab were in awe,” said Wilke.

During Miller’s lab class, several of those prospective students were actually given the opportunity to put on lab coats and gloves, and gain their first hands-on experience with a body in a lab setting.

Tenneson, Dr. Mike '10
Dr. Michael Tenneson, professor of biology and chair of the Department of Natural & Applied Sciences. // (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

The Department of Natural & Applied Sciences is historically one of the largest at Evangel University. Funding for the new lab, which opened last August, was primarily provided by alumni and the EU Ladies Auxiliary.

The project entailed remodeling under-utilized space adjacent to the anatomy lab to enable low-temperature cadaver storage, the acquisition of the necessary laboratory equipment and the appropriation of a female cadaver. The department anticipates acquiring a male cadaver this summer, and then rotating in a new body every other year.

“The launch of our cadaver lab has produced benefits far beyond our expectations,” said Dr. Michael Tenneson, professor of biology and chair of the department.

From alumni to prospective students to med-schools from coast-to-coast, the data showed that this advancement would strengthen the already robust pre-medical program at Evangel.

“It is proving to be a powerful recruiting tool for strong applicants, who frequently inquire about cadaver lab availability,” said Tenneson. “We are also confident that the lab will strengthen the preparation of our pre-med students, giving them an edge in their first anatomy courses in medical school.”

As a bonus, “Our current students have demonstrated higher than normal levels of professionalism and engagement, since the lab opened last fall,” he observed.

More than science

A conversation last summer between Dr. Tenneson and Michael Buesking, associate professor of art, has opened the lab door to other academic departments.

2017-01.25 Buesking sketch
An anatomy sketch by Michael Buesking, associate professor of art at Evangel University. // (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

“Being able to see how tendons and muscles work under the skin is an important thing,” said Buesking, who uses the lab for his upper division art students in the Drawing III class. “Anything that provides a clearer understanding of the anatomical structure benefits the artist.”

Dr. Keith Hardy, chair of the Kinesiology Department, reports that his faculty have found the lab useful for study in courses such as orthopedic injuries and biomechanics.

Sarah Walters, director of Evangel’s athletic training program, says, “Students in our department are better able to connect the dots between what they see in textbooks and what they see in clinical experiences. The new cadaver lab provides them with stronger hands-on skills.”