School of Anatomy

For some, anatomy class involves memorizing anatomical sketches from a textbook or examining plastic models. For every single first-year Kinesiology student at Waterloo, it means studying actual human specimens in the School of Anatomy.

Established by Order in Council of the Government of Ontario in 1978, Waterloo was one of the first non-medical schools in Canada to introduce a School of Anatomy. The goal was to enable students studying human movement to gain a comprehensive understanding of the human body and its structures. The School was founded through the efforts of Dr. Don Ranney, a former orthopaedic and hand surgeon, who headed the school for its first twenty years.

Since that time, thousands of students have had the unique opportunity to explore for themselves the structures of the body involved in human movement. “In my opinion, this is the only way to learn anatomy,” states Diane, a Kinesiology graduate. “What you learn from a textbook simply can’t compare.”

Laboratory sessions are purposely kept small, with groups of 30 students participating in demonstrations using pre-dissected human cadavers. While some students are a little nervous at first, anxieties quickly subside after the first few days. The Teaching Laboratory Coordinator and a dedicated team of graduate students lead undergraduates through the sessions, providing guidance and assistance. For many first-year students, the experience is so positive that they return to the lab in upper years as a Volunteer Teaching Assistant, helping other first-year students with this most unique experience.

There's no doubt that the study of human specimens enhances the undergraduate student experience, but it also serves as outstanding preparation for students who are thinking of enrolling in a health profession program (e.g., medicine or physiotherapy) in the future. Dr. Dan Honsinger, an emergency room physician at a busy hospital, sums it up: “The first year-and-a-half of medical school was essentially a review of the material covered in the Kinesiology program. In topics like anatomy, I had learned most of it before. Very few of my classmates could say the same thing.”