Indiana State University Newsroom

‘Body Shop' seals high school students' plans to seek degrees in health care

November 7, 2011

As dozens of high school students, who aspire to careers in health care, filed into an Indiana State University laboratory, some appeared apprehensive about the rare opportunity that awaited them.

Most, however, were bursting with anticipation.

As soon as the teenagers huddled around lab tables for an experience normally reserved for graduate-level college students, any remaining apprehension faded. The level of chatter made the lab sound like a high school cafeteria at the peak of lunch hour.

"We were touching everything we could. We handled everything from the spleen to the liver, lungs and muscles on the leg of an actual cadaver that were still attached," said Cody Kuiper of West Lebanon, a senior at Seeger High School.

Kuiper was among about 70 students who, during the course of two half-day sessions, held and touched actual human organs, muscles and tissues alongside more familiar models normally used in teaching.

It's different than what you have at high school. You see more, especially taking an anatomy class," said Abigale Keeling, a senior at Fountain Central High School in Veedersburg.  

Faculty and graduate students from Indiana State's College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services and students from the Indiana University School of Medicine-Terre Haute explained to the wide-eyed teens that the real thing generally looks much different than models because human organs are often as different as individual humans.

Both Kuiper, who plans a career in physical therapy, and Keeling, who wants to become a nurse, said the experience confirmed for them that they want to pursue a career in health care.

"It helps me make the right move," Keeling said. "I've seen ... how everything works."

In addition to 45-minute sessions in the anatomy lab, the high school students learned from Indiana State faculty members and students and IU medical students about diagnosis and treatment of such illnesses and injuries as diabetes.

Matt Becker, a second-year student in Indiana State's master's program in physician assistant studies who conducted a lesson on diabetes for the high schoolers, said he felt honored to participate in the program."For me,

it's about getting them involved and hopefully maybe helping them find what they want to do," he said.

Whatever the students decide lies in their future, Becker thought they left Indiana State with a better understanding for one of the biggest killer diseases.

"They may have heard of diabetes but they may not realize how many people actually live with diabetes so that may have piqued their interest," he said.

Indiana University second-year medical students Teela Crecelius of Marengo and Christine Bayt of Indianapolis led a session on cardiovascular disease. In the cadaver lab, they showed students a human heart with a pacemaker.

"It is important to get more people interested in the health care business and different health care professions and see what it available out there," said Bayt.

That is especially so for students from rural Indiana who may want to return to their roots to provide health care, said Crecelius, who is in Indiana University's rural health program.

IU and ISU are partners in the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative and Crecelius appreciates that partnership and its emphasis on inter-professional education - an approach that can truly save lives in underserved rural areas and halp make health care more accessible.

"I grew up in a really little town with one physician in our county, so from a young age I decided that I wanted to be able to fix that," she said. "My parents had to take off a whole day of work just to take us to the doctor an hour away."

This year was the first for the "Body Shop" program and Indiana State's investment in new facilities such as the cadaver lab, and new programs that have increased the breadth of its nursing and allied health faculty made it possible, said David Dominguese, assistant professor of anatomy and director of the gross anatomy lab.

"ISU has done an amazing job of recruiting students and retaining students and helping students to pursue careers or higher education within allied health care professions," Dominguese said. "We have some outstanding facilities and these facilities are available for students and also for the community to help produce better health care for patients and help with teaching and learning,"

Dominguese created and directed the workshops. A grant from the Focus Indiana Area Health Care Initiative funded the program. The West-Central Indiana Area Health Education Center sponsored the event with Indiana State's department of applied medicine and rehabilitation.

Rita Keeling, health career teachers for four high schools in Fountain and Warren counties, said the program was the first opportunity the students had had to experience a cadaver lab and learn directly from university faculty members and graduate students.

"The more hands-on you can give the high school students, the better opportunity they have to become interested in pursuing a post-secondary education," she said. "I love bringing the students to ISU so they can see the innovative things they are doing here and find the field that interests them. My goal by May is that every student has a major declared and a college chosen."

Students from Linton-based Twin Rivers Career and Technical Education, which serves students from Greene and Sullivan counties, also took part in the seminar.

Photos: - Brenna Beard (right), a student at Seeger High School, reacts as David Dominguese, assistant professor and director of the Gross Anatomy Lab at Indiana State University, tells students they are about to get a rare look at human cadavers, which "don't look like they do on TV," (ISU/Rachel Keyes) -Matt Becker, a student in Indiana State University's master of physician assistant studies program, discusses x-rays of human cadavers during a workshop for high school students Nov. 1, 2011. (ISU/Rachel Keyes) - Teela Crecelius, a student at Indiana University School of Medicine-Terre Haute, discusses the human heart during a workshop for high school students at Indiana State University Nov. 1, 2011. (ISU/Rachel Keyes)

Contact: David Dominguese, assistant professor of anatomy and director, gross anatomy lab, College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services, Indiana State University, 812-237-3632 or

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or