Julian Hilliard, Professor of Biology and Human Anatomy Lab Supervisor.

Oklahoma City Community College is a tremendous campus in many ways. 

One of the great things about OCCC is its professors and the courses they teach. 

Julian Hilliard, Professor of Biology and Human Anatomy Lab Supervisor, is one of those teachers. 

Hilliard got his education at the University of Oklahoma. 

“I have a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in zoology. My zoology degree had an emphasis in paleontology, which is the study of ancient life using fossils,” he said. “I studied specifically the evolution of crocodilians. It turns out that paleontologists are taught more anatomy than just about anybody else in the sciences. Because if you dig an ancient dead thing out of the ground, all you have is its anatomy to learn from, you don’t have its ecology [and] you don’t have its behavior. There isn’t any DNA to study leftover if it’s millions of years old. So paleontologists usually end up teaching anatomy at college or university level.” 

Paleontologists know an extensive amount of human anatomy. They have to because of what they are left to work with. Many paleontologists even teach human anatomy at some point. 

Students need hands-on experience to learn about the human body and the ins and outs of all the tissues, nerves, muscles and everything else the body is made of. The best way to get this experience is through cadavers. 

There is an argument going around the world that people learning human anatomy don’t need to use cadavers, but instead need to use software that has been engineered to replace dissecting cadavers. 

Hilliard states that through dissection, “students improve their hand-eye coordination [and] they’re improving their small-motor skills.” 

Being able to perform the medical techniques personally helps students learn and become better in their field. 

Hilliard also says, “you know, I understand that people might be sort of grossed out or find it shocking. But when, when they’re taught that person decided to donate their body for this purpose, for education, then what we should feel toward them is not grossed out by them, but a feeling of gratitude.” 

The donation of a person’s body for medical purposes has to happen when a person is fully aware. 

The facility that handles cadavers is called the Willed Body Program. When someone donates their body to medical use, the families of the lost loved one are given money to help with funeral costs. With funeral costs being so high in today’s society, this extra money goes a long way to helping the family properly send off their loved one. 

At the end of each semester, “the bodies go back and they are cremated by the Willed Body Program. Then the ashes go back to the family of the deceased individual,” Hilliard said. 

The whole process is respectful, both towards the bodies and the families they belong to. 

Cadaver labs are not popular at colleges, because of the requirements that are needed to have one and the specifications a university must meet if they are allowed to have a lab. 

The State Anatomical Board is the organization that sets the rules and requirements for a cadaver lab.

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