CHICKASHA – Sometimes education is less about p‘s and q’s and more about rams and ewes.
High school juniors enrolled in Canadian Valley Technology Center’s Health Careers program dissected sheep hearts last week as part of their curriculum as future health care professionals.
“Anatomy is one of those basics that will follow you forever,” said CV Tech Health Careers instructor Sarah McDaniel. “The heart is one of the main organs, so it is important to study how blood flow occurs.”
One of four deaths each year in the U.S. is attributed to heart disease, according to information supplied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (more commonly known as CDC).
Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease. The first sign is a heart attack for some people, American Heart Association data confirms. Plaque buildup, including cholesterol deposits, can restrict oxygen-rich blood flow to your organs and tissues or cause arteries to harden.
McDaniel said sheep hearts are actually quite similar in size and structure to human hearts.
“Both have four valves, four chambers, an aorta, a pulmonary truck, the vena cavae,” she said. “The sheep’s diet is different, but you can still see the fat build-up in the heart. Seeing it first-hand versus in a book or a diagram is so beneficial.”
Most Health Careers students will follow a nursing pathway, McDaniel said.
“I was a Health Careers student myself at Canadian Valley,” she said. “Afterward, I went into Practical Nursing here.”
McDaniel said she was a case manager for several years before returning to CV Tech.
“Teaching was something I thought I was interested in,” she said. “Once I started doing it, I found my passion.”
Heart dissection is only part of the class curriculum. Students also will experience dissections of sheep brains, eyes and kidneys.
“I believe it will help them,” McDaniel said. “They also get the opportunity to go to a cadaver lab at John Brown University. There, they are seeing the heart as a whole. It is still different than getting to cut into it one.”