anatomy lab in our threeday course

Nurses fascination with body organs

Been teaching critical care skills on & off since 1980. Years ago (was it 1985? 1992?) I had this idea to include an actual anatomy lab when I do these short courses on critical care. We’d get hearts and lungs of a mammal and dissect. It’s always been a hit. Once they graduate from nursing school,  nurses don’t often revisit basic science in this way. In Nepal, few nurses have had an A & P course where they dissected anything. Oh sure, they all get an O.T. Rotation, but the average hospital here does not crack chests…..

Shiny schultz and dirty duncan

When I taught maternity, the first day would be for orientation. We would do a tour of the department. I always asked the L & D staff to save a placenta or two so I could show the students. Ever handled one? It’s strangely fascinating. A mother’s ability to grow a baby is dependent on her ability to grow a placenta. At first the students would be surprised, then their curiosity would take over…… We’d look at the membranes and count the cotelydons. Many nursery nurses hone their IV-starting skill by practicing on placentas…..

But I digress.

Heart and lung dissection has since become a trademark class of mine.

Maine is a dairy state so you could go to a wholesaler that provided veal, and order some “en bloc heart & lung assemblies” for later pickup. I recall signing a USDA  form acknowledging that these organs were not suitable for transplant into a person. It was always a mystery as to how this came to be a federal requirement, but there it was. And so I would dutifully sign.

In 1994 I did this lab at U of Maine Augusta and the custodian stopped to tell the classful of nurses that his mom used to cook Beef Heart. We all laughed.

Science Fair

And of course, this reminds me of my older daughter’s project for Science Fair when she was in fourth grade.  She knew I had a pile of these things in the chest freezer. One evening at the dinner table she was telling us she needed a science fair project, and asked sweetly if she could have one.

“Sure, why not?” So we got one out and thawed it. The next day, she and I sat down and I showed her all the relevant parts – the valves, the arteries, the auricles, etc.

I don’t recall going to the actual science fair, but I know that she was a bit unique as compared to the other boys and girls who had displays of germinating seeds, or a baking-soda volcano, or cooking a hamburger with electricity. Julie’s project was a blob of innards in a tray.

Yes, but they were *fascinating innards* (and by the way, my kids generally refused to allow us to discuss medical things at the dinner table).

Because of this I decided to include this activity in this year’s version of the three-day class. Here in Nepal, it means that we use material from goats. It’s a widely available form of meat, usually butchered every day.


I have learned the going price for goat lung (don’t pay more than 150 nrs per kg), and the exercise has been well received. (“I had no idea…” Is a typical comment).


But the most interesting aspect is to learn about “Phokso” – fried goat lung. This is a delicacy. In just about every session, somebody tells me that they have eaten this. Fresh goat lung is best.

The name is “phokso” and all it took was a  Google search, where I  found a step-by-step description, with excellent photos, of how to prepare this.

Here it is, in all it’s glory.

I have not seen this on any restaurant menu here. They say it’s tasty…….

a “heart lung assembly” includes the trachea. Here we are looking at tracheal rings, the carina and mainstem bronchus.

About Joe Niemczura, RN, MS

These blogs, and my books, and videos are written on the principle that any person embarking on something similar to what I do will gain more preparation than I first had, by reading them. I have fifteen years of USA nursing faculty background. Add to it fifteen more devoted to adult critical care. In Nepal, I started teaching critical care skills in 2011. I figure out what they need to know in a Nepali practice setting. Then I teach it in a culturally appropriate way so that the boots-on-the-ground people will use it. One theme of my work has been collective culture and how it manifests itself in anger. Because this was a problem I incorporated elements of "situational awareness" training from the beginning, in 2011.
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1 Response to anatomy lab in our threeday course

  1. Pingback: March 2015 dates for 3-day sessions at Lalitpur Nursing Campus announced | CCNEPal 2015

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