It’s not for everyone, but donating your, ahem, body to science can be an invaluable gift. Those who do help advance our knowledge of the human body and train our future doctors, nurses, medical scientists, exercise physiologists and even forensic scientists.
Here are three ways you can help students and researchers develop their skills and advance their field.
BODY DONATION PROGRAM
An Invaluable Gift
While all health and medicine students have extensive practical placements in real hospitals and health centres, UOW is one of only a few Australian universities where students have the opportunity to participate in human cadaver dissection learning activities.
While students also perform procedures on life-size virtual patient simulators, working on a donated body lets them understand the complexities of the human body – something that can’t be replicated in plastic anatomical models.
Not all donated bodies are used for teaching. If you agree, your body may be used in research that can lead to exciting new medical discoveries and operation techniques.
The UOW body donation program has expanded rapidly since its establishment in 2006 – with 252 donations received so far and 1,270 registered donors on the list. The University covers the cost of cremation with your ashes returned to your next of kin or scattered with a memorial plaque at the University’s Garden of Rest.
AUSTRALIAN FACILITY FOR TAPHONOMIC EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH (AFTER)
Help Solve Crimes
Taphonomy is the study of organic remains from the time of death to the time of discovery. This research helps investigators construct a timeline that can help solve crimes. AFTER is a facility being established in collaboration with several research partners, including UOW. Located on the outskirts of Sydney, it will be the first facility in the Southern Hemisphere to use donated human cadavers (instead of pig remains) to study decomposition in local conditions.
Leading forensic entomologist (a scientist who studies insects) Associate Professor James Wallman says the facility will improve our techniques for search and recovery of victims and for estimating time since death.
"There is a critical need for this new facility because forensically important insects vary geographically, and they must therefore be studied in the Australian environment for the resultant data to be applicable to local and national police services,” Professor Wallman added.
The facility will have a very high level of security and surveillance, with donated bodies being protected from tampering. If you choose to donate your body, your remains will be returned to your family for burial or cremation.
SIMULATED PATIENT PROGRAM
Calling All Actors
Find the first two options a little hard to stomach? Well the best part about option three is that you can do it while you’re still alive and healthy!
One of the key learning activities for medical students is learning to interact with real people know as Simulated Patients. As a Simulated Patient you will participate in scripted role-plays and/or physical examinations with 1st and 2nd Year Students. This lets students practise their communication skills, hone their physical examination techniques, and make diagnoses with real people. You don’t need any experience, qualifications or acting skills as all training is provided.
While you won’t be treated for existing conditions or prescribed medication, you will be told if they do come across something unexpected.
Interested in a Health & Medicine degree from UOW? Then it’s nice to know that the Federal Government’s Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) ranks UOW as the best university in NSW/ACT for Medicine.