Explore the inside of the human body with RCC’s new SynDavers


Prof. Lisa Merritt shows off the inside of one of RCC’s new SynDavers.

Rappahannock Community College is excited to announce two new learning tools on campus. Nursing and science students will soon have first-hand experiences with Athena and Synthia, RCC’s two synthetic cadavers, known as “SynDavers.”

In summer of 2017, the College had the opportunity to receive two SynDavers to enhance their labs. Professor Lisa Merritt, a biology instructor at RCC, spoke about the new additions to the classroom.

“These are models made of synthetic tissue and different composed materials that allow us to identify structures within a real sized human model,” she explains.

“We have models available and other animals that we can dissect, but having a life-sized SynDaver in our labs engages the students and helps them to visualize what they may potentially see when they go out into their professional medical careers,” says Merritt.

Now settled into their permanent homes, Athena resides on the Warsaw campus while Synthia on the Glenns Campus, both offering hands-on experience for students. After one semester, Merritt says, “Feedback from the students is that it is engaging and they are excited.”

Currently, students enrolled in Anatomy and Physiology labs for Pre-Nursing and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) courses work with the SynDavers.

All of that said, it turns out that one of the new SynDavers has a secret past, one that involves appearances on a popular television show.

“We do have a model who was actually on Mythbusters and was used in a show where she has some bullet wounds we can see,” says Merritt.

While other colleges may have cadaver labs, RCC now can boast of its SynDavers and hope they will last them many years to come.

“Any students who are considering any type of medical or allied health field, whether it is dentistry and looking at the teeth, or EMTs who have to perform intubations, or to just look at what life-sized internal organs look like, I think they’re going to be really interested and should gear up and be ready to get involved with our SynDaver,” says Merritt. — Mary Ashley Wood