December 03, 2007

Students to display embalming knowledge

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Assuring that the last glimpse of a departed loved one meshes with memory is no small task.

Students in Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Mortuary Science and Funeral Service program complete a rigorous four-year bachelor's degree program with instruction in all facets of embalming and working with families to assure it's something they can handle with dignity.

Using posters, PowerPoint and oral presentations, senior students will showcase the embalming knowledge they've acquired during a colloquium on Wednesday, Dec. 5, in the Missouri -Kaskaskia Rooms at the SIUC Student Center. The presentations by advanced embalming and procedures students will begin at 8 a.m. and continue until about mid-day.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover the Mortuary Science and Funeral Service Colloquium that begins at 8 a.m. and continues until about noon. For more information, contact Thomas Shaw, associate professor of mortuary science and funeral service, at 618/453-7217.

This is the 10th annual colloquium for the program and the first time for PowerPoint presentations. The 13 students will make 10-12 minute presentations on their choice of topics relative to embalming. Topics this year include bone donations, anthrax case, head trauma, burns, abdominal aneurysm, obesity, Avian Bird Flu, tuberculosis, drug overdose, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, waterless embalming and glutaraldehyde embalming.

"This activity requires the student to apply knowledge gained in microbiology, pathology, anatomy, embalming chemistry, restorative art, embalming and advanced embalming," said Thomas Shaw, associate professor in mortuary science and funeral service, part of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts. "It calls for them to synthesize the pathogenesis of the topic into potential embalming or restorative challenges and then analyze the significance of these issues as they relate to the embalming operation."

The students select a particular type of disease or health-related condition or procedure involved in mortuary science. They research its development, causes, and changes it creates within the human body and how this relates to embalming. They give the results of their study in judged presentations.

Shaw said the goal of the project is to help students, who will be doing internships in the spring to wrap up their formal education, build their confidence. He said the activity reinforces knowledge students have acquired through the years and allows them to gain valuable experience presenting material in front of an audience.

"It's the culminating science event in their education," Shaw said.

Shaw said he hopes that upon graduation, students will be quite capable and comfortable not only with the work they'll be doing with the deceased, but in speaking to the public and helping people understand the value of a funeral and the importance of pre-arranged funeral planning.