Health Sciences students gain unique perspective on travel course – August 2013

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay anatomy and physiology students traveled 4,500 miles this summer to the Plastinarium in Guben, Germany for a chance to work with a preservation technique called plastination.

The students and tour leaders, Human Biology Prof. Amanda Nelson and Associate Dean Donna Ritch, worked side-by-side with German anatomist Dr. Gunther von Hagens, who discovered the process now made famous by controversial Body Worlds international touring exhibits.

The dissection and anatomical study of preserved corpses is clearly of value to medical science and education. UW-Green Bay students — many of them with successful health science and medical careers in front of them — benefited from the trip. The course adds a unique perspective to an already rigorous program at UW-Green Bay designed to prepare undergraduates for graduate schools or health careers.

“As it becomes more and more competitive to gain entry into professional programs in the health sciences, students are looking for ways to enhance their resume,” Nelson said. “Immersing themselves in this intense, hands-on anatomy experience can highlight a student’s already impressive academic career and provide a great springboard for discussion during an interview.”

Ritch said the experience is unlike any other.

“The students that participated in this two-week travel course had an amazing, unique experience that they could not get anywhere else,” she said. “They worked in Dr. von Hagens’ laboratory and had the opportunity to meet and ask questions of him. Their free time allowed them to experience the German and Polish cultures.” Side trips took them to the site of an Auschwitz concentration camp and the Krakow Main Square — the largest medieval town square in Europe, which dates back to the 13th century.

UW-Green Bay student Emily Brown said the experience was so impactful, she didn’t want to return home.

“Participating in the workshops at the Plastinarium was an unforgettable experience,” she said. “I learned so much from the employees and exhibits and gained so much experience; I never wanted to leave!”


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