Okay, so I’ll admit that this title is clickbait. I’m still an undergraduate student here at USC Viterbi, and that won’t change for at least another year. However, some of my favorite classes I’ve taken on campus have been through my minor in Healthcare Studies, offered by the Keck School of Medicine, and I’ve had a few on the medical campus itself!! While I think my absolute favorite class ends up changing nearly every semester (answers range from MATLAB to yoga to art history to gerontology to emergency medicine), for now, I would have to say that MEDS 320, or Cadaver Anatomy, was one of the coolest, most unique undergraduate classes I’ve ever taken.
To give some context, cadaver anatomy is a class where we worked with real donated cadavers, or dead human bodies. These were all donors that chose to donate their bodies to advancement of medical training specifically at Keck, and it was such an honor to be able to learn from these people. I saw pacemakers in hearts, knee replacements, smoker’s lungs, colostomy-bag surgeries and even cancerous tissue. I’ve always had a weird fascination with what the inside of my body looks like, and truly, this class was the closest I could get.
While it was incredible to work with real human bodies, the best part of this class was the teaching staff that ran it. Dr. Habib, the professor that created the entire course, is 100% the best professor I have had at USC by FAR. He was so knowledgeable, funny, passionate and just such an interesting guy!! He was an expert in human anatomy, but his passion was paleontology- he spends several weeks each summer excavating dig sites in New Mexico, works at the Natural History Museum and is a specialist in biomechanics of tetrapods like pterosaurs (winged yet 4 limbed bird-like dinosaurs that kind of look like crested pterodactyls). He made a huge effort to learn everyone’s names, and made lab and lecture so much fun to go to. The TA’s were also amazing, since they were all medical students at Keck. They were so insanely smart, but also funny, relatable and good looking to boot. I had a lot of conversations with them about their chosen medical specialties, the transition from college to medical school, and what drew them to medicine in the first place, and came out of there realizing how different everyone’s path can be to medical school.
This class had a huge impact on me for a lot of different reasons. I realized a) how much of a difference an amazing professor can make b) how much the human body fascinates me and c) I am awful at memorizing a ton of facts. While I definitely learned a lot about cadaver anatomy, and was lucky to get to take an undergrad class with real cadavers (truly USC is probably one of very few schools around the country that has a class like this), I think I walked away from this class with a better idea of myself and what excited me in the world of healthcare. I found myself most excited when we were discussing surgeries, exploring the complex bones in the limbs and looking at pacemaker leads and joint replacements. I realized that the mechanical components of the body, and medical devices, were what excited me the most; as someone who spent the majority of their college career pursuing a pre-med track, it was pretty eye-opening to realize that I could get the same satisfaction of helping people through alternate means, like working on those joint replacements and devices.
Anyway, MEDS 320 was definitely one of my favorite classes here at USC. I got to wear scrubs, see the inside of the human body, learn about the most complex machine on earth, and learn about myself and my career goals. If you can name another class with as many takeaways, let me know, I’d love to take another life-changing course before I graduate!
That’s all I got, peace out and fight on!