Volunteers will assist in preparing gross-anatomy donors as part of unique medical education program; deadline to apply is April 15

The International Human Cadaver Prosection Program (IHCPP) at the Indiana University School of Medicine – Northwest (IUSM-NW) is now accepting applications for its 2011 session. This hands-on medical education program, the only one of its kind in the country, allows students and working professionals, including non-healthcare professionals, the opportunity to learn anatomy and radiology by working in the medical school’s gross anatomy laboratory.

The volunteers will work alongside medical students and faculty, practicing physicians and other professionals to ready the body donors for the fall 2011 gross anatomy classes. The physical process of prosection includes the removal of donors’ skin and body fat to expose organs, muscles and other anatomical structures.

This year’s program is scheduled for Aug. 2- 4, 2011, in the Dunes Medical/Professional Building on the campus of Indiana University Northwest. Volunteers who are accepted into the IHCPP program will be asked to attend three preparatory classes in June, including an anatomy-research and hands-on clinical session. In July, volunteers will also have the opportunity to assist with the radiography of the medical donors.

The August program will open with representatives from Methodist Hospitals conducting an on-site suturing workshop, where participants will learn about the different types of wound closure, and will identify several types and sizes of suturing material.

Following, a new program for the 2011 program will be the prosthetics and orthotic limb workshop presented by Rocco Prosthetics & Orthotic Center and sponsored in part by the American Association of Anatomists. Attendees will review a case study analysis of real orthotic and prosthetic patients and gain a hands-on understanding of the anatomical evaluation and casting process.

An orthopedic workshop may also take place on Aug. 3 and Aug. 4, allowing participants to perform a total knee replacement using the same surgical instruments and techniques used in the modern orthopedic operative theater. Participants will gain hands-on experience and work with surgical skills trainers in the orthopedic field. Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits will be available to workshop participants.

Volunteers will also have the opportunity in July to assist and observe as this year’s body donors undergo x-rays, ultrasounds, high-resolution CT scans, and MRIs, with the cooperation and assistance of Methodist Hospitals Imaging Services at the hospital’s Merrillville campus. Undergraduate students from the radiological sciences program at IU Northwest will also participate in this effort. Use of these imaging techniques provides detailed images of the body donors that prosecutors and medical students are able to use as aids for learning and dissection.

Applicants for the IHCPP need not be medical professional or pre-medical students to participate. Prior participants have included students from a variety of fields, including pre-med, pre-vet, nursing, radiological technology, and mortuary-science students, and undergraduate and graduate students from other disciplines, as well as teachers, attorneys, lab technicians, veterinarians, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs), just to name a few.

In recent years, IUSM-NW has hosted volunteers from across the United States and overseas. The number of applicants continues to grow each year.

Application materials must be received no later than April 15, 2011, to be considered for this year’s IHCPP program. Participants will be selected in mid-May.

The program, now in its 12th year, is led and coordinated by Ernest Talarico, Ph.D., assistant director of medical education and course director for human gross anatomy and embryology at IUSM-NW. Talarico’s innovative approach to gross anatomy education is focused on emphasizing the dignity and humanity of the body donors who become his student doctors’ first patients.

As part of “Talarico Protocol for Human Gross Anatomy” (TPHGA), medical students and prosectors are given the opportunity to correspond with, and sometimes even meet the families of the donors they work with during their first-year anatomy class. It’s an experience, Talarico said, that can have a fundamental impact on their future interactions with patients.

Participants who complete the program receive a certificate of completion and certification for work with biohazards and blood-borne pathogens.

This year’s sponsors include: American Association of Anatomists (Bethesda, Md.); IU Northwest Radiologic Sciences (Gary, Ind.); IU School of Medicine – Northwest (Gary, Ind.); Methodist Hospitals (Merrillville, Ind.); Rocco Prosthetics & Orthotic Center (Cincinnati, Ohio); and Thermo Fisher Scientific (Waltham, Mass.).

For more information, or to download application materials, visit the Web at


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