“When you can merge people with a skill set and kids who have a desire to learn, that’s powerful,” said Gary Tipsord, LeRoy schools superintendent.

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McLean County Medical Society — led by its secretary, Dr. Tom Pliura — is sponsoring a Human Anatomy Cadaver Dissection Lab for advanced-level high school students interested in careers in medicine. Pliura — an emergency medicine physician and lawyer — hopes to begin after-school labs on April 10 in a back room of his LeRoy law office.

Several area physicians want to assist at the labs. Tipsord has contacted superintendents of other McLean County school districts.

Tipsord and Pliura expect teachers and students in advanced anatomy and biology classes to be interested.

“Not every kid is cut out for this,” Pliura admitted in his office this week. Labs — which will cost no money but offer no credit — will be limited to students who have the interest, maturity and intelligence to work on dissection.

“No one else is doing this in Illinois” for high school students, Pliura said.

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Physician-high school student interaction often is job shadowing and that’s fine, Pliura said.

“But how much real benefit is that?” he asked. “I’m trying to do something a little different.”

With a physician shortage predicted by 2020, Pliura sees the labs as a way to inspire students who want to be doctors, nurses and physician assistants.

To Tipsord, the labs would be an innovative next step for schools such as LeRoy High School, which offers a 7 a.m. advanced anatomy class.

State law allows physicians licensed in Illinois and medical facilities to have cadavers.

“The bottom line is, if it’s being used for an appropriate purpose — education — and the body is received in an appropriate way, it’s perfectly reasonable to use a cadaver for that purpose,” said Susan Hofer of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

“Medical education requires a familiarity with the human body,” Hofer added.

The medical society has received its first cadaver from the Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois and has followed proper procedures, Pliura said. The cadaver is of a 54-year-old man who died of a heart attack.

The medical society also has purchased an online dissection tutorial from a medical center, as well as lab coats and dissection kits.

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