By: Jamison Wagner, Staff Reporter
In response to a petition to keep cadaver practice, signed by more than 600 students, administration is clarifying its decision to discontinue the use of the cadavers, which is based on several different issues, said Richard Calabro, Dean for the School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering.
One of the issues is the cost involved. Ending the practice means the school will save roughly $25,000 a year, he said. Much of that money goes to paying contractors to cut open the cadavers for the students, he said.
“Students at this level do not yet have the skill to open up a cadaver so you can see the muscles and the blood vessels. In the old days we would have the faculty do it but as the demand grew it became too burdensome to ask that, so now we pay people to do it,” he said.
Another ongoing issue is finding people to cut open the cadavers, and CNM has found and hired someone for the summer term, but administration was worried that they would not be able to find someone for later semesters and that the cadavers would lie unused, he said.
CNM plans to use the savings from discontinuing use of the cadavers to replace them with high-quality, reusable models, he said. While the initial cost would be higher, this would be offset by the reusability and lack of health-related issues, he said.
The program has had a lot of problems with mold growth on the cadavers, so even though the cadavers are preserved there are some fungi that can grow even in those conditions, he said.
“In the absence of being able to identify these molds that grow on the cadavers it is not a good risk to have instructors exposed to these molds for five to 10 hours a week or students being exposed for one to two hours a week. If we are not 100 percent sure what that mold is, then I am not too comfortable with the teachers and students having to deal with it,” he said.
CNM has already seen a decline in enrollment for Anatomy and Physiology I and II Labs since students know that it is no longer required for the Nursing program, he said.
The school is not willing to spend $25,000 a year for classes that will likely decline in demand, he said.
No single issue was the deciding factor; instead it was a combination of factors that made it unappealing to continue the use of actual cadavers, he said.
“After sharing this information with the faculty, I asked them to make compelling arguments for keeping this program. No arguments were made at this time,” he said.
In place of the cadavers, CNM will use models, diagrams and software programs for student learning, he said. This will also work better in situations where the cadavers in lab could be a problem for a syllabus designed for distance learning, he said.
It is important to note that cadaver use is not essential to learning in Anatomy and Physiology I and II and is very rare not only at the community college level, it is also rare at the university level, he said. The decision to discontinue the use of cadavers will not affect future student success, especially since no disciplines at this time call for the use of cadavers at the undergraduate level, he said.