Anatomical models enhance learning in medical fields

New anatomical models help students better understand the way the body works – Courtesy of Courtney-Ann Ah Lo Kephuloa

Preparing for the medical field, whether working with humans or animals, can be challenging. Filled with tongue-twisting terminology like tensor fascia lata (say that ten times), hundreds of bones and even more muscles, studying is a herculean task.

Up until recently, WCC students entering the medical and veterinary fields had limited resources to choose from in class, relying mostly on pictures and a few small-scale anatomical models.

According to biology associate professor Ross Langston, the lack of anatomical models was problematic. 

“When I first arrived at WCC 14 years ago, the department had only a handful of aging human anatomical models and no veterinary models,” he said. “When I looked into how much it would cost to buy new ones, I was flabbergasted; a single 24-inch dissectible human model could cost over $3,000. The veterinary ones were even more expensive. Over the years we have been able to buy a few models here and there, thanks mostly to the fundraising efforts of Dr. Edmund Bernauer, who first introduced anatomy courses at the college, but the ratio of students to models was still quite high.”

Thanks to funding from Chancellor Doug Dykstra and the Planning and Budget Committee, students can now get up close and personal with anatomical models showcasing the intricate details of both human and animal anatomy. Made in Germany and the U.S., these life-sized models allow students to examine anatomical features layer by layer, increasing their working knowledge and allowing them to bridge the gap between words on a page and real-life applications. 

“These models are great!” said ZOOL 141 student Nicole Cummings. “Being able to remove different body parts then piece them back together as if it were a puzzle really helps me hone in and solidify that memory. I wouldn’t feel as confident in the content I’ve learned if we didn’t have these models to work with.”

These new models have been a game changer, setting students up for future success. Students are now able to more accurately understand anatomy by seeing real locations of body parts on these life-sized models as opposed to using their imagination from pictures. These skills will likely help with future real-life applications in working with patients as students progress in the medical and veterinary fields. 

“The 3D anatomical models in animal science classes have been amazing,” said ANSC 142 student Jacqueline Gravener. “It’s given us hands on experience you’d never get from a 2D picture from a book.  Being able to look, feel and see the 3D parts has allowed us to better understand the animals we will be working with in the future.” 

ANSC 142 student Mark Deaton added, “ … Professor Langston presented us with a box of brand new bones we had the leisure of exploring. Seeing an exact replica of a femur is very helpful when trying to identify a trochanter or a condyle. Thanks for the box of bones, Professor. It elevated my grade significantly.”

As human anatomy students ourselves, we are both grateful for the opportunity to utilize these models during our study this semester. We’ve spent countless hours examining these models, and we wouldn’t have gained as great of an understanding of the human body without them.

Mahalo again to the college and Chancellor Dykstra for truly understanding the importance of educational resources and helping to equip our students with the tools for success.

by Meagan Nadal and Courtney Ann Ah Lo Keohuloa, Special to Ka ‘Ohana