By Athena Karsera
Even if they do not all choose to become surgeons, it is crucial for all medical students to become very familiar with human anatomy.
And, it is in the laboratories of the University of Nicosia Medical School that the majority of our students will have the opportunity to work with human cadavers for the first time.
Contributing to the department since its formation, Head of Medical School Laboratories, Chad Schou, recently revealed more about the laboratories’ day-to-day operation and how this section of the Medical School interacts with its other departments.
As noted by Chad, the Medical School Laboratories team is made up of experts who work well together while also being able to carry out their individual duties.
’Everyone is well-trained and I am fully confident in their abilities to work independently,’ he underlined, adding, ’I am always around to help troubleshoot, but we’ve got a great team and we all learn well on the job’
As the programme has been established for some time now, Chad said year-to-year adjustments, as a rule, depended on the volume of students at the time.
He explained: ’What we have done from the beginning is to scale our resources in proportion to the number of students, so we can deliver and emphasise small team-teaching, engage the students and make sure they can see things clearly’.
Chad emphasised that, when it comes to anatomy, for example, students’ time at the Medical School Laboratories may be the first and only time they are exposed to the subject in such a hands-on manner.
Chad and his team are rightly proud of their anatomy lab with the Head explaining that the Medical School has made a significant investment in the facility including providing the best models and manikins on the market, so it is important to ensure that students are able to appreciate the resources made available to them while they continue their medical education.
Students have access to a variety of learning resources in the spacious and well-equipped anatomy and clinical skills laboratories. During the sessions, student groups remain small and manageable, and the anatomy stations and clinical skills cubicles are set up with resources that emphasise the teaching topics of those sessions. In addition to Anatomy and Clinical Skills the Pathology laboratory carries an excellent collection of histology slides for the students.
In order to better interact with the demonstrator at each station, students fill out their clinically-orientated anatomy station guides prior to their visit to the station.
These demonstrators usually have a clinical or medical background. The majority have medical degrees, and several of them are general and plastic surgeons. ‘Providing demonstrators of this high calibre is a particular selling point for the Medical School’, Chad noted.
He added: ‘We want to encourage a deep approach to learning. We want to help make this information stay with the student so that they can access it in their future practice’. During clinical skills sessions, students work with realistic models and manikins, as well as both simulated and real patients.
Students are encouraged to develop bedside communication techniques. Teaching is structured in a way that allows medical students to build their clinical knowledge and skills as they progress towards examining real patients during their clinical placements.
‘That they can actually learn from real specimens creates a different learning experience than if they were just examining models’, Chad elaborated, adding, ’We feel that, particularly for our students wanting to become surgeons, this creates added value’. In the clinical skills lab, student tutorials use high quality models and manikins before they work with simulated patients (actors). At a later stage students examine patients under senior medical supervision at local teaching hospitals and clinics.
The laboratory team has close communication with several departments at the Medical School. This top-notch cooperation between departments ensures smooth exams and successful events.
The Medical School Laboratories play an important role in the Mediterranean region by being the testing centre for the prestigious Royal College of Surgeons of England, with membership exams usually taking place at the end of October or start of November every year.
Head of Medical School Laboratories
Dr Catherine O’Dowd Phanis
Dr Maria Filipova