Louisiana Students Dissect, Deliver With Digital Cadaver


LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — The academic performance of nursing and other students at Sowela Technical Community College has improved since the introduction of the Anatomage table, a digital cadaver, and high-fidelity mannequins, school officials said.

The Anatomage table, one of only four in the state, allows students to view the body's basic structures. It provides 360-degree views of virtual renderings of wounds, diseases and body systems. The images come from photographs of deceased people.

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Nicole Wiley, anatomy and physiology instructor and lab coordinator, said students' grades — along with their confidence and class participation — improved after the table was introduced in October.

"I got this table, and it opened up communication within the students," Wiley said. "They were very excited about it and wanted to touch the table."

She said one student went from a score of 54 on her first practical exam to an 87 on her second — all because the table made it easier for her and the other students to interact and learn together.

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The lifelike mannequins that Sowela uses simulate the needs and treatment requirements of real patients, and a birthing suite gives students the opportunity to witness births and the complications associated with them.

The mother can be programmed to breathe, groan and produce fluids while the baby can cry, turn blue and move its limbs. Students check vitals and prescribe necessary treatment in a clinical setting before ever setting foot in a hospital.

"We got this equipment based on industry feedback, to make better nurses who are prepared to go out and take care of patients," said Patricia Montou, assistant master instructor of the practical nursing program.

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Nuria Reyes-Arias, executive director of institutional advancement, said on-the-job training for Sowela nursing graduates is "cut down to a minimum because they're exposed to so many different scenarios before graduating" thanks to the simulation suites.

– by Marlisa Harding, AP reporter

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