Boxes filled with bones are being studied as part of a summer class for incoming College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific students at Western University of Health Sciences, to give them a head start on medical school.

Thirty-two students spend five days a week for six weeks taking the Intensive Summer Anatomy Course (ISAC), with lectures in the morning and labs in the afternoon.

"It’s really good to just focus on anatomy, which is a keystone course for becoming a successful physician," said Casey Pyle, DO ’13 Northwest Track, who said the class is exciting because he gets to examine parts of the human body he’s only seen or read about in books.

The course is being taught by Craig Kuehn, PhD, professor of anatomy and course director of ISAC. Starting July 6, three other anatomy professors — Dr. Vicki Wedel, Dr. Mathew Wedel and Dr. Elizabeth Rega – will also come in to teach.

Two students each share a bone box, a collection of mostly replicated adult human body parts. They tote the box around campus, often studying its contents in the hallways of the Health Profession Center (HPC) before class.

"Through this course, we’re getting a running start into the fall semester," Pyle said. "If we do well, we also get the opportunity to be facilitators for the rest of our incoming classmates, working with them to have a strong anatomical understanding."

To become a facilitator for Gross Anatomy lab in the fall, students must pass with a grade above 80 percent, said Dr. Kuehn.

"In the ISAC course, the students get to immerse themselves in anatomy without any other courses," he said. "They are all quizzed weekly in the lab, so they become more familiar than most students with talking about the structures. They also get to go over anatomy again when they become facilitators, so they are more prepared than most for OMM and medicine in general."

WesternU’s ISAC was founded in 1999 by Dr. Rafi Younoszai, who came to COMP in 1979.