Anatomage instructor Alex Layyous (from left) teaches PHCC professors Lucy Williams, Frances Moore, lab assistant Kimberly Babcock and professor Jason Gibson how to use the college’s new Anatomage table.

There’s a new student enrolled at Patrick Henry Community College this fall, but he’s not like most pupils. He has a class schedule but no name. He will interact with more than 100 students each semester, but he can’t talk. He will offer assistance on class assignments, but he will never turn in a paper.

That’s because the new student isn’t a student at all. Last month PHCC welcomed the first of four Anatomage tables to the campus.

The table offers a vast supply of information about human anatomy in an interactive fashion. From examining a cross-section of a particular organ to learning the names of the bones, students are just a few clicks away from answering almost any anatomy question they may have.

“The Anatomage table is like a virtual cadaver. For anatomy and physiology classes and many health care classes, the best way to learn anatomy is with a cadaver. However, those are very expensive, difficult to obtain and come with a host of challenges like storage and handling. Anatomage tables are the closest thing students can get to having a real cadaver,” said Amanda Broome, PHCC communications specialist.

“In many ways, the tables are superior learning tools because of the challenges and limitations inherent with real cadavers. The table offers many interactive and informative features that students can use over and over to learn anatomy, work on labs and study for tests.”

The table allows students to virtually dissect a digital body, study veins and learn about organ systems and placement, thereby eliminating the need for a physical specimen.

This new technology also gives anatomy and physiology professors at PHCC the option of moving away from more traditional lecture methods – like PowerPoint slides and plastic models – and on to modern classroom lessons. Using the table allows students to gather around the surface for each class session, rather than straining to see notes scrawled on the board.

For students wanting to test their knowledge, the tables have built-in quiz modes, so students can assess their familiarity with classroom concepts before exams.

In preparation for the upcoming school year, PHCC instructors recently participated in a training session, which demonstrated proper usage of the table.

“Anatomage provided an all-day training event for our faculty. The information ranged from how to turn the table on to how to utilize all the features the software provides,” Broome said.

“One of our lead professors on this project, Frances Moore, will also be going to an Anatomage Users Group meeting at the end of July for two days of in-depth training. There she will get additional ideas on how other instructors are using the table.”

Funded by a $5.8 million grant provided in November by the Harvest Foundation to PHCC, the tables – at a cost of $72,000 each – will enhance the learning experience for students studying anatomy at the college.

Eventually, PHCC plans to integrate the technology into nursing classes in an effort to fill the nearly 500 nursing jobs in the college’s service area, according to the grant application, and more than 6,500 nursing jobs within a 45-minute drive from Martinsville.

“Student success is at the heart of everything we do here at PHCC. Providing students access to the best learning tools is just another way PHCC fosters student success,” Broome said. “Our expectation is that the Anatomage tables will better prepare our students for their future science classes and for their future jobs.”

Amie Knowles can be reached at

Amie Knowles can be reached at

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