Calhoun Health Students Receive Unique Opportunity to Work With Human Cadavers

Students enrolled in surgical technology, nursing, dental and other allied health programs at Calhoun Community College received a unique opportunity to enhance their classroom and clinical instruction by training with human cadavers, individuals who elected to donate their bodies to science. Calhoun is one of only a few two-year colleges which provide allied health students with this rare opportunity.

According to Bret McGill, Calhoun’s Dean for Health Sciences, “The cadavers will provide valuable insight for our students on how the human body works. This experience allows our students the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of how the body systems function together, as well as provides them the opportunity to gain broader knowledge of the concepts covered in the lecture and labs that could otherwise only be gained in a traditional clinical setting.”

This opportunity is being offered to all health students in a manner that is specific to their respective programs. For instance, the surgical technology students can work on the bodies as if they were in a real-life hospital setting undergoing a medical procedure. The paramedic students practice an IO, or Intraosseous, procedure, where a needle is placed into the canal of a bone, in this case the humerus bone. Physical Therapist Assistant students use their classroom skills to dissect muscular and bone structures, while emergency medical services students practice intubation and rescue trauma training techniques.

Additionally, healthcare professionals from across the region are also participating in the labs. “A local dentist who currently works with our dental assisting and dental hygiene programs will also be on campus to conduct a class on forensic identification using the teeth of one or more of the cadavers,” commented McGill.

The Medical Education and Research Institute (MERI) in Memphis, Tennessee is providing the cadavers. MERI is a non-profit organization that specializes in hands-on training and medical education of health professionals and students. Calhoun received grant funding to cover the college’s cost to transport the cadavers, and is partnering with Alabama EMS Region One (AERO) on the project. AERO is a not-for-profit organization with the goal of building better emergency medical services across the following north Alabama counties: Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marshall and Morgan.

“This very unique opportunity is also allowing our students to practice life-saving skills such as advanced airway technique, on actual human bodies instead of the simulated mannequins we have in our labs,” McGill said. “In addition, because the experience is being facilitated by trained healthcare professionals, our students are able to ask questions and to participate in meaningful discussions on-site, which further expands their skills and understanding of the concepts they are learning,” he added.

To learn more about Calhoun’s allied health programs, visit