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Episode 57 | SCRIPT

Warnings & Safety Tips in the A&P Syllabus


The A&P Professor podcast (TAPP radio) episodes are made for listening, not reading. This transcript is provided for your convenience, but hey, it’s just not possible to capture the emphasis and dramatic delivery of the audio version. Or the cool theme music.  Or laughs and snorts. And because it’s generated by a combo of machine and human transcription, it may not be exactly right. So I strongly recommend listening by clicking the audio player provided.

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Episode 57

Episode 57 Transcript

Warnings & Safety Tips in the A&P Syllabus




Kevin Patton: Here’s something I’ve heard said of being a nurse, “Where else can you experience the thrill of having total strangers poop in front of you like it’s totally your business?”

Aileen: Welcome to The A&P Professor, a few minutes to focus on teaching human anatomy and physiology with a veteran educator and teaching mentor, your host, Kevin Patton.

Kevin Patton: In this episode I talk about HAPS awards, preview episodes, my Nuzzel news letter, warnings in an A&P syllabus, and safety advice.

Nuzzel Newsletter

Kevin Patton: Some of the topics I discuss and some of the links I provide in the show notes or episode page provide in-depth information regarding recent news or recent research publications. And many of those updates you hear in these podcast episodes first appear in my daily newsletter of curated headlines for A&P teachers. This daily collection of headlines is conveyed through a service called Nuzzel, that’s N-U-Z-Z-E-L, and the name of my newsletter is easy to remember, it’s the same as the name of this podcast, The A&P Professor. To find the archive of past Nuzzel newsletters, or to get it delivered daily in your inbox for free, just go to nuzzel.com/theapprofessor, or you guessed it, just click the link in the show notes or episode page.

[The updates have been migrated from Nuzzel to Revue https://theapprofessor.org/updates]

Sponsored by HAPS

Kevin Patton: Marketing support for this podcast is provided by HAPS, the Human Anatomy & Physiology Society, promoting excellence in the teaching of human anatomy and physiology for over 30 years. Hey, check out the newly revised A&P course guidelines at the website, just go visit HAPS at theAPprofessor.org/haps, that’s H-A-P-S.

HAPS Travel Awards

Kevin Patton: You already know that HAPS, the Human Anatomy & Physiology Society, is one of the sponsors of this podcast. If you’re familiar with HAPS you may also know that they give out various awards, travel awards, that can be used to help fund your travel and your participation in the annual HAPS Conference, which occurs usually at the end of May every year, so I’m going to spend just a couple of minutes talking about those awards so that we’re all familiar with them, and secondly I’m going to point out a couple of things that are new to the awards program this year.

Kevin Patton: One thing that’s new is that the committee that develops and administers these awards has a slightly different name, it used to be called the Grants and Scholarship Committee, now it’s the Awards and Scholarships Committee because that reflects a little bit better what we’re doing here. When I say, “we,” I am a member of that committee and have been for a long time, so I’ve seen kind of what goes on behind the scenes, and I’ll tell you, a lot goes on behind the scenes in terms of trying to develop new awards and also in doing the best job that we can in awarding the various kind of awards that we have available.

Kevin Patton: First of all, one of the reasons I’m bringing this up now is that the applications and all the supporting material have a deadline of January 3rd, so this gives you plenty of time before the end of this academic term to get all your ducks in a row because January 3rd, that comes usually at a time that’s in between semesters, so if you’re looking for letters of support and things like that, they’re not going to be so easy to get at the last minute like that. So if you work on it now, you’ll have plenty of time to prepare. I also want to mention that there are two categories of awards given out by HAPS, one are the supported awards, and what that means is there is some kind of external sponsor who is providing the funds necessary for that award. And I’ll go through what these are in a moment, and we have a new one this year. Then the other major category of HAPS awards are just called HAPS Awards because they’re being funded from internal funds from inside HAPS.

Kevin Patton: So looking at the supported awards, we have three of them. One of them is the ADInstruments Sam Drogo Technology in the Classroom Award. Now ADInstruments is a company that provides equipment and supplies for teaching human anatomy and physiology and they’ve been a long time supporter of HAPS and its mission. The Sam Drogo part comes from a former member, a deceased member of HAPS named Sam Drogo. Now, I’ve been around at HAPS for a long, long time so I’ve met a lot of people in HAPS and Sam is one of them, Sam was a friend of mine, he taught up at Mohawk Valley Community College in upstate New York and he was a great guy. He contributed a lot to the community of anatomy and physiology teachers, and he was also very well respected by his students, and very well loved by his students. He died suddenly, and when he did ADInstruments, and HAPS, and a lot of his friends and students felt like it was appropriate to develop some kind of award or scholarship that would honor his memory and that’s what we have here, The ADInstruments Sam Drogo Technology in the Classroom Award.

Kevin Patton: And that Technology in the Classroom award refers to the fact that this award encourages the innovative use of technology to engage undergraduates in human anatomy and physiology. What you get is $500 to attend the HAPS Annual Conference, and you’re encouraged to prevent a workshop featuring technology and education innovations at the conference. Three of those awards are available, all sponsored by ADInstruments, but I want to point out, it does not mean you need to use ADInstruments equipment or software as part of your workshop presentation, or in your teaching, or anything. So they sponsor it, but they’re not requiring that you use their product.

Kevin Patton: Another of the supported awards is the Gail Jenkins Teaching and Mentoring Award. And this is supported by the textbook publisher Wiley. Part of the reason that they’re supporting it is to honor one of their authors, Gail Jenkins, who also is a deceased member of HAPS, that is, she was a long-time member of HAPS, contributed a lot, served a lot of different roles within HAPS, and became a friend to many, including me, within HAPS. I learned a lot from Gail and I really appreciate her friendship and her support over the years, so I’m glad that Wiley was able to fund this award in her name, and that is the Gail Jenkins Teaching and Mentoring Award.

Kevin Patton: It’s an annual award for a HAPS member who demonstrates use of engaging learning activities to help students truly understand and retain the more difficult anatomy and physiology concepts, with kinesthetic and active learning strategies, using inexpensive, everyday props. This was something that was very dear to Gail’s heart. The award is also designed to recognize those willing to mentor other instructors, to also incorporate active learning to benefit even more students. So this award is a $1,000 cash award provided by Wiley and the registration is waived for the HAPS Annual Conference in May. Award recipients will be required to present a workshop at the annual conference.

Kevin Patton: The third of the supported awards I want to mention is a new one, we’ve never offered this before. This is the John Martin Second Timer Award. And yes, I know John Martin. John Martin is still alive and kicking, and I just saw him at the last conference, he hadn’t been to a few conferences since his retirement and I was glad to see him there and visit with him. He’s been part of HAPS since the very beginning. And this award that’s new this year is funded by him, a former A&P teacher. And it’s open to high school faculty in addition to college and university faculty. This award is for HAPS members who have attended only one previous HAPS Annual Conference, that’s why we call it a Second Timer Award. So you’ve attended only one previous HAPS Annual Conference, and it doesn’t matter which year as long as it was an annual conference, and you’re in need of some financial assistance to attend this year’s conference as a second timer.

Kevin Patton: The award is $500 to use toward attending the HAPS Annual Conference and applicants must be full-time or contingent college, university faculty, or full-time high school faculty, currently teaching anatomy and physiology with at least part of the teaching load being face-to-face as opposed to totally online teaching. Now award recipients will be required to resent either a poster or a workshop at the annual conference, so that’s the John Martin Second Timer Award, very first time we’re offering that award, and thanks again to John Martin for providing that, thanks to Wiley for providing the Gail Jenkins Teaching and Mentoring Award, and thanks to ADInstruments for sponsoring the ADInstruments Sam Drogo Technology in the Classroom Award.

Kevin Patton: And now the internal HAPS Awards that come out of HAPS funds all pay the registration fee for the next annual conference, plus $400 to help with travel expenses to attend the conference. All of the require award recipients to make a presentation at the 2020 HAPS Annual Conference. And they require a completion of an online application, plus submission of one letter of recommendation separate from the application. These include the Robert B. Anthony Travel Award. Now Robert B. Anthony is, well, I think of him as the guy who invented HAPS in a way. It was his idea and implementation of some initial workshops up at Triton College in Illinois where he invited A&P professors from all over the place to come for a few days and share with each other tips and insights in teaching A&P. And he would bring in other experts and so on as well. That eventually evolved into HAPS as an organization. Bob Anthony continued to be a very active member of HAPS for many, many years after that. He’s now retired from teaching, and is no longer active in HAPS, but he was one of our early presidents and he served a variety of other roles. A lot of them informal roles in counseling the presidents and being generally supportive of what was going on in the organization, so that the Robert B. Anthony Travel Award, and that was one of the first awards ever established by HAPS.

Kevin Patton: Another one is the full-time faculty travel award to encourage full-time faculty with more than five years of teaching anatomy and physiology to attend the HAPS Annual Conference. Another one, a third one, is the Contingent Faculty Travel Award to encourage contingent faculty and there is a definition at the website if you’re not sure what they mean by contingent, because there’s lots of different flavors of that. Then the fourth one is the Student/Post-Doc Travel Award, and what’s new this year about that is it’s now open to undergraduate students as well as to grad students and post-docs. What I suggest you do is go to theAPprofessor.org/haps and look for those awards, and page through it, and start to get your ducks in a row so that you can apply for these and see if you can’t get some support for coming to our next annual conference. This year it’s going to be in Ottawa, Canada and it’s shaping up to be another really great conference.

Sponsored by AAA

Kevin Patton: A searchable transcript and a captioned audiogram of this episode are funded by AAA, the American Association for Anatomy. Did you know that HAPS members qualify for a reduced membership rate in AAA? Check it out at anatomy.org.

Preview Episodes

Kevin Patton: I want to take just a moment to talk about preview episodes. Preview episodes are episodes that are released a few days before a full episode. You’re listening to a full episode right now, and a few days before this was released, I released a preview episode that goes hand in hand with the full episode. If you’ve never heard a preview episode you might think that it’s just sort of a listing of topics, or maybe clips from the full episode, and well, you’d be partially right, I do list the topics. But I literally only take a minute, maybe two minutes to run down what the topics are going to be in the full episode. So yeah, you do get that kind of preview, but there are additional segments that have additional content that may be helpful in the full episode, or just helpful in general.

Kevin Patton: For example, I nearly always do a word dissection where I take terms that are going to be used in the full episode, mostly terms that have sort of odd constructions, and most often they’re terms that we don’t necessarily use in teaching A&P all the time, and they might even be newly coined terms that maybe you want to be familiar with so that you’re kind of ahead of the game. So that’s what we do in word dissection, it’s that same sort of thing that we all do when we’re teaching our class where we break down big terms into their word parts so that we can understand them more deeply. So we have that word dissection segment.

Kevin Patton: There’s also almost always a book club segment, and this is where the A&P Professor Book Club will give a recommendation for some book that is helpful or interesting to people who teach A&P. And some of the are recommendations from my own reading, my own library of books that have helped me as an A&P teacher, and a lot of them are sent in by listeners. It’s their favorite books, their books that they think really have helped inform or support their teaching of A&P. And occasionally there are announcements and other kinds of content mixed in there as well, so if you’re not familiar with the previews, I want to encourage you to try them out. And I don’t want you to miss out on the news, opinions, or content that you’ll benefit from hearing in those previews.

Syllabus Warnings

Kevin Patton: In some past episodes I’ve referred to things that I’ve put into my course syllabus and other course documents. For example, episode 24 titled, The Syllabus Episode had a whole bunch of them. More recently I mentioned that I explain my spelling policy, or I should say my misspelling policy in my course documents. Well, since I’ve been thinking about these things, I thought I’d share some warnings that I put into my syllabus in a special section called, um, well, it’s called, Warnings! With an exclamation point. These are things that I want to get out there and get students thinking about right away. I talk about these too, but I like to have them in my syllabus because I want them available to students all the time and putting them in the syllabus emphasizes that they’re important, right? I put a handout with these syllabus warnings in the mobile app, which I call the TAPP app.

Kevin Patton: You can read along if you want, just pause this audio, open up the handout in the app, and then resume the audio. By the way, if you want to know more about the TAPP app, then check out the preview episode that precedes this full episode. Moving on here, to help distinguish what I actually put in my syllabus from my general discussing of things in this segment, I’ll put some mood music under the passages I’m reading from my syllabus so you know that I’m reading from my syllabus when you hear the music. Okay, here’s the first of my three warnings.

Kevin Patton: “This course is about the human body, there will be graphic images and frank descriptions and discussions of body parts and body functions. This means nudity, in the images not in class, silly. Discussions of sex, urine and urination, feces and defecation, spitting, sneezing, snoring, farting, vomiting, snot, blood, guts, and generally gross or embarrassing stuff that you may find uncomfortable. If you think you shouldn’t be exposed to any of this stuff, then now is the time to make the decision to leave or stay in the course, and perhaps rethink your proposed career choice. And this is one of the reasons that children are not allowed in the classrooms or labs, their giggling gets distracting.”

Kevin Patton: Okay, so that’s the first of three warnings. And notice that this is not written in dry, humorless prose. It’s that kind of lighthearted, kind of goofy, borderline snarky voice that you hear me use all the time in this podcast, right? Why do I do that in my list of warnings? Well, mainly because that’s just who I am. But being kind of lighthearted and goofy kind of takes the edge off a bit, so that it’s coming across more as advice from a friendly, maybe even goofy, source, and it makes the content a bit easier to open up to. Before I forget, I want to mention that reference to kids and classrooms and labs, I’m on Twitter and other social platforms, so I do see all the kudos given to teachers who bring their kids to class, or let students bring kids to class, or even hold a student’s baby, presumably with permission, while they’re lecturing.

Kevin Patton: Yep, those sure are endearing moments. And yeah, I’ve let kids, even babies into class before, even my own kids. I can’t say that I’ve rocked any of these kids to sleep as I taught a class though. But I don’t do that anymore for a number of reasons. First of all, some colleges I’ve worked at have a strict policy against this. I’ve been told it’s mostly about liability related to kids being injured, or if there’s a fire, or campus shooter, or other catastrophe, but I think some of the other reasons I’ll site here come into play as well in formulating those college policies. Another reason I now bar children from being in the classroom or lab is my own concern for their safety. This is a professional environment, where I’m expecting everyone to play it safe.

Kevin Patton: I can’t expect that of children, so that means I can’t concentrate on doing my job properly if I’m now responsible for the safety of children whose parents may or not be attending to them sufficiently because, well, maybe they just don’t realize the dangers like I do. Or maybe they’re just so swept up in the enthralling class that they forget about watching their kids for a moment, which leads to another issue. Having kids in the classroom, no matter how quiet and well behaved they are, are a distraction. A lot of students won’t say anything for fear of being judged. In other words, they’re not going to say, “Hey, I don’t want this other student to bring their kids in.” Especially when that other student and those kids are sitting right there. It’s just like I risk being judged right now, for being against professors cuddling student’s offspring while lecturing.

Kevin Patton: But believe me, I hear from them outside of class, sometimes arriving to my office en masse with torches and pitchforks. Okay, maybe not that well armed, but certainly not happy about the disruptions. And then, there’s the reason sited here, having kids in a class means that there’s some subjects I have to remember to step softly around in a way that I wouldn’t with all adults in the classroom. And sometimes, I forget to step softly, or don’t realize I should step softly and now I’m potentially a bad actor in this scene without intending to be. My A&P class is for adults. Adults who can pay attention to what we’re doing and can watch out for their own safety. It’s just not a place for kids. All that being said, I know that sometimes getting childcare is more than challenging, so I do what I can to help students work out alternative solutions. I don’t advise a lack of empathy, or a lack of compassion, I encourage us all to be supportive, but bringing kids into class is not a good solution, in my opinion.

Kevin Patton: Sometimes even adults are uncomfortable in an A&P class, because some of what we talk about really is taboo in polite social conversation. When these topics there we’re not used to discussing come up in class, they can make us a bit uncomfortable, even if we’re prepared for it, and even if we see the point in discussing them. It’s the influence of our culture, and we can’t just pretend it’s not there. So I bring this up partly to acknowledge it before it happens, which I think kind of makes it, oh I don’t know, a little bit easier to ease into when the moment does arrive in class. Another reason I do this, is because my students are mostly going into health professions where there’ll regularly be put in a position of discussing impossibly even putting gloves on and getting up close to things that most people won’t even discuss in public. And if a patient is hesitant to talk about their bowel habits, or other unmentionable functions with a stranger, even if it’s medically necessary, just think how much more reluctant to discuss their symptoms with someone who’s clearly embarrassed to be hearing about it.

Kevin Patton: So I have a discussion about that discomfort and tell them that I had to get used to it as a teacher. I’m not sure I’m completely used to it sometimes, and that they ought to start working on getting used to it, too. Ahead of time, before they’re dealing with patients. This reminds me of something that happened not too far along in my teaching career. I had noticed that in A&P 2, near the end when we’re talking about the reproductive system, most of those students I had had for two semesters in A&P 1 and now in A&P 2, and A&P 2 was coming to a close, and so we had reached a pretty high level of comfort with each other. I noticed that when I got to the reproductive system, suddenly when, if I was giving a little mini lecture, or something like that, I would look out in class and all these students that would normally be looking at me, jotting a few notes, were not entirely looking down at their notebook, and not looking up, not making eye contact certainly.

Kevin Patton: I just, I was amused by that when I first saw it, and of course I understand why that’s the case because reproductive function is one of those taboo subjects that not everyone is comfortable with discussing in public. I wasn’t a stranger, at that point, but I still was not a close friend of family member. Even then, I think a lot of people have some difficulty in having those kinds of discussions. The next time around, when that came to be, I revisited that discomfort discussion right before we started talking about the reproductive system, and I said, “Hey, I’ve noticed this happen before in class, and so I’m just pointing out that we need to think about the way we react to things because when we’re dealing with patients and they’re telling us about their symptoms, we don’t want to be looking down, looking away, not making eye contact because that’s going to make them even more uncomfortable and even less likely to give us accurate information that we need in order to take care of them.”

Kevin Patton: So I didn’t really think much of that, and so I start my story of the reproductive system, and I’m walking around, and making gestures, and doing what I normally do during what I normally do during a lecture, and I look out at the classroom and I see everybody, every single student is making eye contact with me, which that never happened either. But then I just started laughing, and they said, “What?” And I said, “Oh my gosh,” I said, “I’ve never mentioned this phenomenon before to students and I didn’t realize the effect it was going to have. Now you’re all trying to make eye contact with me because you don’t want to be one of the students that are just staring down at their notebook the whole time, too embarrassed to look up.” So yeah, this can have unintended consequences when you have these discussions about the kinds of things that you’re talking about in class, so be aware. Okay, finally I’m ready to go on to warning number two from my syllabus.

Kevin Patton: “This course takes a lot of time. A lot more than other courses. Well, except maybe calculus and perhaps some of the nursing courses. A lot more than you might think. A lot more. Carefully consider your overall time and energy commitments. Do you have family to take care of? Do you have a job? Does it demand a lot of time, or will your schedule change suddenly? Are there other major stressors in your life right now? Do you realize that some college work is not like high school, it takes a lot of time. Carefully consider arranging your schedule to allow for this course. And if you aren’t willing to take the needed time outside of class, or if you think you may not be able to take the time, then now is when you should consider carefully whether you should take the course now, or at a different time in your life.”

Kevin Patton: Now, way back in episode 9, where I gave advice for helping returning learners, I talked about a technique that can work well with both returning learners and traditional learners. And that is to have them sit down and have a chat with their family, friends, coworkers, teammates, and other folks in their lives, and let them know that they’re being asked to be part of team that’s going to help the student make it to their goals, to give them some extra space, and possibly some extra support. Because let’s face it, A&P is hard, and those next courses after A&P aren’t really going to be a piece of cake either.

Kevin Patton: Back in episode 55, I suggested that we avoid typing anything in all caps in our syllabus. Why? Because all caps is often interpreted as shouting and maybe we don’t want to be shouting at students in our syllabus. But I also mentioned that, well, like anything I declare as a general policy, I sometimes do use all caps on my syllabus. Here’s a case in point, when I stated, “a lot of them,” in the passage that I just read from the syllabus, the word a lot is in all caps. I’m hoping that this will be read as a playful or ironic sort of shouting and not an angry sort of shouting, but it is something we ought to weigh carefully when we use all caps in any of communications with students, including the syllabus. Now here’s the third warning that I put into my syllabus.

Kevin Patton: “Do you realize that there is a major computer/internet component to this course? You need to plan for what computer you will use, including internet connection, and when you will use it. You’ll be using it a lot in this course. If you think computer access will be a problem, then you may want to hold off on taking this course until you have personal computer access, or can take the time to do your work on campus using our campus computers.”

Kevin Patton: Yep, I put the word lot in all caps in this passage too. Okay, maybe I was shouting a bit, but well, students need to know that even though this particular course, the one I took these warnings from, is considered an ordinary face-to-face course. Not an online course, not a hybrid course, not a crossbreed, not an outcross, not an incross course, and yet, there’s all these things a student has to do online, like online practice tests, and some online regular tests, and accessing grades, and interactive videos, and stuff like that. A lot of us who spend year after year teaching know this about our classes, but a lot of students, especially those just entering college, and among those, especially returning learners, aren’t often aware of that. Yes, even now that we’re two decades into the 21st century, they are just not aware of it sometimes.

Kevin Patton: So it’s important to emphasize this issue, so it doesn’t suddenly become a big obstacle when the first online test is due. Okay, that’s a lot to take in all at once. But I’ll be diving back into my syllabus more in this and in future episodes, and I invite you to do the same. What are some things that have worked for you? Just call or write in and we’ll share them, okay? If you want to come on this show and chat about it, that would be even better.

Sponsored by HAPI Online Graduate Program

Kevin Patton: The free distribution of this podcast is sponsored by the Master of Science in Human Anatomy and Physiology Instruction, the HAPI degree. I’m on the faculty of this program, so I know the incredible value it is for A&P teachers. Looking to power up your game in teaching A&P? Check out this online graduate program at nycc.edu/hapi, that’s H-A-P-I, or click the link in the show notes or episode page.

Safety Advice

Kevin Patton: In another segment I talk about my three warnings to students that I put into my course syllabus. Now I’m going to tell you about the safety advice I give them too. Now I’m all about safety, I think I got that from my early days spent as a zookeeper, and then as a wild animal trainer, you just don’t survive without a limp, and a bunch of scars, or survive at all in those professions unless safety comes first. Even with safety precautions, a cage full of lions and a lab full of chemicals and sharp instruments can still produce injuries, scars, or worse. It’s not just the lab specific stuff that’s dangerous. There are all kinds of hazards that we as teachers ought to be prepared for, and that we ought to prepare our students for. There’s fires, earthquakes, deranged people with military style assault weapons, medical incidents, all kinds of stuff.

Kevin Patton: So I’m going to run through a sheet of safety advice that I give my students. Sometimes as part of the handout, or sometimes as a separate sheet along with the syllabus, just to throw out some ideas and get you thinking about ways that you might want to handle safety. To make it easy to tell which parts I actually list in my syllabus or safety sheet, I’ll put music under the parts I’m quoting. There’s also a printed version in the app, that is the TAPP app. That’s the free app for listening to this podcast that I talked about in the preview to this episode. Both here, and in the handout in the app, I’ve dropped the school name and other specific info and inserted just a generic phrase instead. So in parts it sounds kind of wonky for that reason. Now these are all numbered items.

Kevin Patton: “Item one, always play it safe. If there’s anything at all that seems like it may be a safety hazard, strange smells, strange sounds, finding strange objects, suspicious behavior of a classmate, and so on, then inform the instructor immediately. Even it means interrupting a lecture or discussion. Number two, keep the, school name, department of public safety phone number handy. It is, phone number. Put it into your smartphones contact/favorite list now. Also, write it down on the front of your notebook now. Sign up for the free emergency alert system, text “messaging” at, URL.”

Kevin Patton: Now notice how I inserted the phrases school name, and URL, and so on. There are other substitutions that you might want to make. For example, your school may not have something called department of public safety, and your school system may be called something different than emergency alert system. And I’ll admit it, there are a couple of words here that are in all caps, which we know can be heard as shouting, and I’ve advised not to use that in your syllabus or anytime you give student instructions. But well, as always, I don’t necessarily follow all my own rules all the time, so when I said to put the safety number in your smartphone now, now is in all caps. So yeah, I guess I’m kind of shouting that. I’m using it for emphasis when it could be taken as shouting, but you know what? It’s okay if they hear it as shouting because I think they’re hearing the concern where it’s coming from, whether than me trying to kind of get down on them.

Kevin Patton: “Number three, in case of fire evacuate the building. There is a map at the door of this room. Study it today and know where you are going if evacuation is necessary later in the semester, know at least two ways of getting out of the building. There are fire alarms, and fires hoses, and fire extinguishers in the hallway, learn where they are. Number four, in case of evacuation notice, use the same route as in number three above. Number five, check in with the instructor if an evacuation occurs, even if you don’t plan to return to the building. That’s so that I won’t send emergency staff into a burning building looking for you when you’re on your way home.”

Kevin Patton: Now I tell my students that they’re risking the lives of emergency workers if they think you’re stuck in a burning building, and here you are in the drive-through at White Castle, which is right across the street from campus. Now I always have a class roster handy, and grab that on the way out if I can. It’s not a perfect system for tracking the students who may or may not be in class, but it’s better than relying totally on memory, especially my memory.

Kevin Patton: “Number six, in the case of a shooter or similar hazard in the building, and safe evacuation is not possible, lock the classroom door from the inside and hide away from the door window. DPS officers will have a key, so do not open for anyone. And consider DHS guidelines.”

Kevin Patton: Now, that DHS guidelines thing is a live hyperlink to a PDF that the Department of Homeland Security puts out specifically for this purpose. I’ll have a link in the show notes and episode guide, and of course it’s in the handout that I have available in the free TAPP app, which reminds me of another bit of advice. Once you have your safety tips all plotted out, make sure you run it by someone in authority on your campus, maybe more than one person, to make sure that your advice is not in conflict with official policy. For example, I’ll never forget evacuating a lecture hall of 150 or so students when the fire alarm went off and we were all out standing on a busy, rainy, city street while no one else in that crowded, multistory building evacuated. It was just us standing out there.

Kevin Patton: We eventually went back in, and after class I contacted the emergency department who told me that they never evacuate for a fire alarm, because well, it’s usually not a fire. So I asked them, well if it is a fire, then what? And they said, “Well, then we’ll send somebody around yelling, “Fire!” And I just thought, “Is that how we’re using our technology, really?” I mean, why do we even have a fire alarm? They were kind of annoyed at my call and asked why I didn’t read the emergency handbook that was on my desk. I explained, “I didn’t have a desk.” Because I was an adjunct, and nobody ever gave me a handbook, and nobody ever mentioned one. Later I asked around to the full timers and none of them had one either, but the person I was talking to said I should have sought one out and read it, which I thought to myself would be odd to have occurred because I didn’t know such a thing even existed, so why would I ask for one?

Kevin Patton: Oh well, so I’m telling you this story for two reasons. One is, well, I’m an old guy and as I’m sure I’ve mentioned, stop me if you’ve heard me say this, when your brain ages, your storytelling inhibitions become increasingly diminished. So that’s why I’m telling this story. Another reason I’m telling this is story is that, well, things about how colleges and universities are run don’t always make sense, yet I’m still responsible for the safety of my students. So it pays to ask around for advice and, well, while you’re at it, why not ask if there’s some sort of handbook that you’re supposed to know about.

Kevin Patton: “Number seven, in the case of a weather emergency, proceed to a room marked with a blue triangle, usually a lower, inside room with no windows. Number eight, in the case of an earthquake hold on, get under a table if you can or on the floor next to a solid object and watch for flying objects, protecting your head as best you can.”

Kevin Patton: Now this reminds me of a story, and as you know, if I think of a story I’m going to tell it. I was teaching a course in a big lecture hall that held, I don’t know, about 150 or so students. It actually was the same lecture hall I mentioned just a few minutes ago. And when I got to my safety advice about earthquakes, I said, looking around it was regular lecture hall style seating, so they had these little flip top desk things that they pulled out after they sat down. And it would really be quite a feat to try and get underneath one of those, the seats were so close together that would be difficult too, so I said, “In a room like this, probably the best thing to do is just get down on the floor, in between your seat and the seat in front of you, because if the ceiling or other things come crashing down, then hopefully the seat back, which will be higher than you, will be able to support the weight of some of those things falling down on you and that will give you some extra safety. That’s much better than staying seated and sitting upright or standing up. So I kind of thought to myself, “Is that really the best we can do?” And I could see by the look in my student’s face like, “Yeah, sure, that’s going to help a lot.”

Kevin Patton: Interestingly, there was one semester I was always had the first class in the morning, it was an 8:00 AM class. And I would go to the lecture hall, and go in there and make sure everything was where it was supposed to be, and I had an intercom PA system that I used, so I got that all set up, and got all my materials set up and so on, so that when I came to class I could be greeting students as they arrived, and chatting with them, and didn’t have to worry about getting things set up. So I remember one morning I had walked in, or actually I just kind of look in the room, because the door was locked and normally the public safety officers had unlocked it for me so that I could get in there, so it was locked up and I thought, “Well, that’s really weird. I’m going to have to go find somebody with a key to open this up.” Because I didn’t have a key to that lecture hall.

Kevin Patton: Then I noticed there was a sign on the door that said, “Please use a different room, or…” I forget what exactly it said, but it made it clear that this room was sort of out of order. So I peered inside, it was kind dim, I look inside and the suspended ceiling that was normally up on the ceiling was now down. It had fallen down. Well, they had been doing some renovation to the lecture hall above it, and so for the days preceding that incident, during class sometimes there would be some jack hammering or something going on above our head and there would be a little wisp of dust come flying down, and stuff like that, and I wondered about the safety of this.

Kevin Patton: Well sure enough it caused the ceiling in our lecture hall to get loose, and it fell completely down. And guess what? It was resting on the seat backs, so if someone had been in the classroom, and thankfully there was, I checked into this, there was no one in the classroom when it fell. But if students had been in there and they had noticed things were starting to fall apart, if they had followed the advice I had given them and got down on the floor between their seat and the seat in front them, odds are none of them would have been hurt, or at least not hurt seriously. Why? Because the seat backs really did catch the falling ceiling. So there you go, I guessed right for once. Anyway, that was just another story there.

Kevin Patton: “Number nine, in the case of medical emergencies notify the, school name, department of public safety immediately at, phone number, or 911. They will contact and direct outside emergency crews if needed. All classrooms/labs have an emergency phone. Please notify the instructor or a classmate if you’re not feeling well, don’t just leave, you may not make it very far. The instructor appreciates prior notice of any medical conditions that might give you trouble during the class.”

Kevin Patton: Now here is another policy I wouldn’t have anticipated. When there’s a medical emergency, I always thought one always calls 911, right? Well, not on at least two of the campuses where I’ve taught. You dial 911 only if you can’t get ahold of the public safety officers. That’s because the public safety officers are trained as first responders and can get there faster than the public system can get. And they’re going to come carrying emergency equipment like AED, or whatever might be needed depending on the call. And also, if I call 911, and an ambulance is dispatched, I or the school may have some extra liability, including financial liability in some cases. One of my colleagues actually got written up for calling 911 when a student collapsed. Who’d have guessed? Once again, it pays to check with others about your school’s policies. They’re not all the same.

Kevin Patton: And I also want to mention something I learned very, very early in my teaching career, and that is that if a student has a medical condition that has the potential, or maybe even is likely to cause an incident in the classroom, I’m not normally going to be told about that. The reason is that has to do with medical privacy and even just plain old ordinary student privacy, because that is deemed something I need not know. I totally disagree with that, I think that’s something I do need to know. I think I should be informed of that, but that’s my opinion and not a lot of college administrators share that opinion. I’m just telling you that somebody might have something that could really go wrong that you are not going to be prepared for. That’s why I put that phrase in there that the instructor appreciates prior notice of any medical conditions that might give you trouble during class. So there’s no harm in saying, “Hey, if there’s something you want me to know, you can tell me.” That’s not a violation of anything because they’re willingly telling you what’s going on.

Kevin Patton: And not very often do students come to me with stuff like that, but occasionally they do. Normally it’s just normal stuff that it’s nice to know, but I would have been able to handle anyway. Probably the most frequent one is they’ll come and say, “I’m eight months pregnant, so my water might break.” Okay. Or they might tell me, “Hey, we’re not supposed to bring food and drink in here, but I’m having this or that issue with my pregnancy, or with some other medical condition, so it would really help if I can have a drink in here.” So I usually tell them, “Yeah, sure. That’s fine.” And then if any other student says, “Hey, how come you’re letting so-and-so bring a drink in, but I can’t bring a drink in?” Then I can say, “Well, okay. There are reasons. Yeah, it seems odd, but there are reasons.”

Kevin Patton: My point is, is that if I’m not going to be informed by the system of things I ought to know about, then maybe we can ask the students to tell us things we need to know about. And I have had a few students who have had medical conditions where they sometimes get seizures or some kind of other medical incident, and I’ll ask them, “Okay, what is it you recommend that I do? If this happens to you, what should my response be? What should we do to help you when that happens?” Sometimes it’s not and I don’t need to do anything, but they want to let me know what’s going on, or why they’re suddenly rushing out of class, or something like that. And speaking of rushing out of class, we have had some cases where a student has felt sick and decided to leave the class but didn’t tell anybody that they were feeling sick, and they get up, walk outside of class, and then collapse in the hallway, and they’re just laying there. We had a student who collapsed in a restroom and was there for who knows how long before they were found by a random student walking in while class was going on and found them there.

Kevin Patton: So I always tell the students, “If you’re not feeling well, and you feel like you need to leave class, just grab whoever is next to you and ask them to come with you.” And at the same time I say, “If a student is sitting next to you and they ask you to come out in the hallway, then that’s probably what it is.” So unless you have some other reason not to, go ahead and go with them. I tell them also don’t be afraid of disrupting class if you’re having a medical emergency. If you’re feeling faint, or sick, or something else is going on, just shout it out, or raise your hand, or do whatever you need to do to get my attention or somebody else’s attention and deal with it. Don’t worry about disrupting class, it’s just A&P, we can always go back and learn whatever it is we missed, but your health is more important. Think about those kinds of things related to medical emergencies.

Kevin Patton: “Number 10, take appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of flu and other infectious conditions by limiting contact with other when you’re sick, and observing CDC recommended guidelines.” This is where I tell them to stay home until they’ve been fever free for a day. Sometimes I then step up onto my soapbox for the admonition that herd immunity can’t work if only a few people get immunized, so please get your flu shot if you’re able to get a flu shot.

Kevin Patton: “Number 11, if your class ends after dark, you should park in the lot nearest the building and walk out together as a group when class is over. Any student may request an escort from the, school name, department of public safety, phone number. See also, URL, for school name, safety guidelines and procedures. This is general advice only, please use good judgment. School name and emergency service policies and procedures supersede this advice.”

Kevin Patton: Okay, so that’s my list of safety tips. During one of the first classes, I give some room specific tips like where we are relative to the two nearest exits, where the fire extinguisher is, stuff like that. Speaking of fire extinguishers, they’re not just for fires. I learned this in the circus, that they’re great for breaking up lion attacks, which means that if a lion attacks me, that’s how they can stop the attack without killing me. Odds are that’s not going to happen in class, but it also means that if some other kind of violence is happening, a fire extinguisher may help cool things down without harming anyone. As I mentioned way back in episode seven, I also start each semester with an exam, which I call test zero. It mainly covers concepts that they should have had before coming into A&P 1 like chemistry, and cell biology, and stuff like that, or before coming into A&P too like all that stuff they learned in A&P 1.

Kevin Patton: But I also include a few safety questions like, “Where is the closest exit from our classroom? Where is the nearest fire extinguisher?” And things like that, to reinforce the importance of safety. The reason I’m giving you these is not because it’s the best or only way to do this, it’s just to put the idea out there that we have some responsibility for the safety of our students. The best and easiest way to facilitate safety is to be prepared for it, partly by getting everyone else prepared. I haven’t lost a student during class yet, and I never hope to. Why not call or write in with your ideas and advice concerning classroom safety?

Staying Connected

Kevin Patton: Hey, don’t forget that I always put links in the show notes and at the episode page at theAPprofessor.org in case you want to further explore any ideas mentioned in this podcast, or if you want to visit our sponsors. And you’re always encouraged to call in with your questions, comments, and ideas at the podcast hotline. That’s 1-833-LION-DEN. That’s 1-833-546-6336, or send a recording or written message to podcast@theAPprofessor.org. I’ll see you down the road.

Aileen: The A&P Professor is hosted by Dr. Kevin Patton, and award-winning professor and textbook author in human anatomy and physiology.

Kevin Patton: Please use this podcast as directed. Consult a health professional if itching or burning occurs while listening.

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Last updated: January 27, 2022 at 10:15 am


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