Our pandemic year (plus) never seems to run out of lessons to teach, but one that hits especially close to home at UNLV is that, for tomorrow’s health care providers, there’s some learning that just has to be done hands-on.
Fortunately for students in the university’s health schools, there’s no shortage of pretty cool facilities.
School of Dental Medicine
Head and Neck Anatomy
Anyone who’s been to see the Bodies exhibit at Luxor Hotel and Casino is familiar with plastinated human specimens. By removing water and fats from a specimen and replacing those with plastic, human tissue can be preserved, dry and odorless. The School of Dental Medicine has 38 such heads that give students a clear look at how everything above the shoulders fits together. “This course fosters an understanding of head and neck anatomy and how it relates to and affects the oral cavity,” said Dr. Joshua Polanski.
Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV
Virtual Anatomy Lab
Cadaver? How about ca-don’t. Founding Dean Barbara Atkinson knew there was a better way to learn anatomy compared to her med school days. “I can still vividly see and smell the cadaver I worked on 46 years ago,” she said. “I wanted to see so much more of the body than one small section. I wanted to see how the whole body fit together.” The virtual anatomy lab uses large touchscreens to walk students through all sorts of diagnostic imaging like X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and more. It also shows cross-sections of organs, three-dimensional body parts, or lets students zoom in on a tumor. It’s more in-depth learning, without a whiff of formaldehyde.
School of Integrated Health
Since the mid-1990s, the Sports Injury Research Center has been a key space in the School of Integrated Health, with its 4,000 square feet dedicated to measuring human movement and performance. Students learn how to quantify kinematics and kinetics — what movement looks like and what forces cause it. They also do research, testing wearable tech or observing 3-D motion capture, shoe performance, and more. It’s exactly where the rubber meets the road.
School of Public Health
Lead and mercury: useful for industrial applications, not so great when paired with a side salad and merlot. UNLV’s Environmental Health Lab in the School of Public Health has sussed out dangerous materials in food, household items, and fauna since 2005. Currently, students are helping researchers in the Tile Investigation and Lead Evaluation Study, which evaluates the dangers that can be present in commercially available tile.
School of Nursing
Clinical Simulation Center
Dozens of gallons of manufactured blood and miles of medical tape flow from the Clinical Simulation Center of Las Vegas, the 31,000-square-foot facility at the Shadow Lane campus built as a joint facility for nursing and medical students. Home to dozens of lifelike manikins and 120 training parts, students come to the sim lab to get a realistic feel of what life in a hospital is like across 76 different health scenarios. As students work through scenarios with trained patient-actors, faculty observe from a control room. Afterward, everyone debriefs the day. “The key advantage to the (center) during skills training is the fabrication of a health care environment,” said Jessica Doolen, assistant professor of nursing and educational director of the sim center.