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Parkland High School Students Dissect Human Shoulder with Help of St. Luke's Doctors
April 24, 2019

Assisted by St. Luke’s doctors, Parkland High School Students dissected a human shoulder on April 24.

Daniel Heckman, MD, orthopedic surgeon, St. Luke's Orthopedic Care, and members of his staff led the dissection. The cadaver specimen was donated by the Venel Institute in Bethlehem.

“Shoulder pain and injury are a big part of our practice with about 25 percent of people over the age of 50 suffering from some kind of shoulder pain,” said Dr. Heckman. “Many of these students represent the future of surgical and rehabilitative medicine so it’s important for them to have this kind of early exposure. By the time they are practicing in the field, the technology and surgical instruments could be quite different, but the anatomy and physiology of the human body will be the same.”

Parkland students participating in the sessions include those who want to pursue a career in the medical field and are participating in the Project Lead the Way ® Human Body Systems class, which is part of a national curriculum. The class examines the interactions of human body systems as they explore identity, power, movement, protection and homeostasis and take on the roles of biomedical professionals to solve real-world medical cases.

Throughout the year, these students are involved in rigorous, hands-on, biomedical course curriculum including content and activities that immerse them in medical scenarios and situations, like dissections of a fetal pig and the heart, brain, kidney and eye of other organisms.

Eighty students will be directly involved in the live dissection. Dr. Heckman and his team explained shoulder exams, review treatments, demonstrate a rotator cuff repair and review pathology including X-ray, MRI and scope images.

Additional students who are interested in pursuing a medicine-related profession, such as those taking Anatomy and Physiology or other Project Lead the Way ® Biomedical courses or participating in Club Med at Parkland High School, watched the event via livestream with St. Luke’s athletic trainers who will answer questions during the live event.

Prior to the event, a St. Luke’s committee interviewed and selected six students (who applied for the position through a written letter) to serve as the “Surgeon Sidekicks” during the dissection. These six students will assist Dr. Heckman prior to and during the dissection. Additionally, two St. Luke’s Athletic Trainers visited Human Body Systems classes to provide expert information during a lesson on the anatomy and physiology of the shoulder. The athletic trainers also visited advanced placement art class students with shoulder models and explained the musculature of the shoulder to assist in a sketching assignment. 

“The students are really excited to be in the presence of a cadaver specimen and to actually see, firsthand, the inside of the human body,” says Laura Kowalski, Parkland High School biology teacher. “These honors-level students are extremely dedicated to the sciences, especially as it relates to their interests in attending medical school or pursuing a career in the medical field, so this event will make a big impact on their futures.”