The dead take center stage at GCU's pre-med class - KMSP-TV

The dead take center stage at Grand Canyon University pre-med class

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- As a society, we don't like to look at our dead.  We cover them in sheets, put them in bags, close them in caskets -- but not in this room.  Here the dead take center stage.

At a pre-med class at Grand Canyon University, these are people who decided to leave their bodies to science after they died so that other people may someday live better, longer lives.

The bodies probably don't look like what you'd expect.  there's no blood.   the coloring is off because of the way they are preserved, but you can still recognize ears.. hands.. and for many students here... working with these cadavers took some getting used to.

"You kinda think.. this used to be someone's loved one at one time so I had to get myself used to it emotionally more than physically," said GCC junior Preslee Swern.

"I was a little nervous at first.. who's not nervous when they see something that's not living," said GCC freshman Rachel Yarberry.

But for most, the nerves fall away as the teaching begins.  The professor here puts pins in the cadavers' bodies, teaching about the major muscle groups and organ systems -- it's hands on learning you can't get from a book or a model.

This is a perfect example of why it's important to work with real body parts.  A plastic model of a human heart -- it's all perfect and color coded.  A real human heart looks very different, but it's what a doctor will see when they go into your chest.

Grand Canyon University claims it is the only undergraduate school in Arizona that allows its students to be so hands on with cadavers in so many classes -- something these students appreciate.

When asked if she felt like she'd have a leg up on other pre-med students because you've had this experience, Swern replied, "I know in medical school we will have to deal with cadavers... so this gives me a leg up on the program."

"It's definitely a great learning tool we have here.. and yes, I'm very appreciative we get to get in here and look at this," said Yarberry.

And also appreciative that these people decided to give all they had to science.


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