Groton receives South Dakota’s first synthetic cadaver

Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 6:07 PM CDT
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GROTON, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - There’s a new member of Groton Area School, and she’s helping create a pathway for students interested in a career in health care.

Her name is Toni, and she’s the first synthetic cadaver, or ‘syndaver’ in South Dakota.

”She’s made out of a bio plant-based material. So, it actually is a living organism. She’s pretty interesting. She replicas just like a human cadaver, but you don’t have the formaldehyde and harsh chemicals for kids.,” said Groton Area School Business Manager Becky Hubsch.

Toni cost around $125,000, and Groton was able to purchase the ‘syndaver’ through a Department of Education grant. Students in Groton will be able to use Toni to get a more hands-on experience with the human body.

“A lot of kids wouldn’t really get this experience until they were maybe in undergrad or graduate programming, so to have this in a high school setting is really tremendous and we’re pretty thankful for it,” said Hubsch.

For students like senior Anna Fjeldheim, Toni can provide an authentic experience as she is made of synthetic tissue that more accurately mimics living human tissue than a real cadaver.

”I’m really interested in anatomy and biology. I think it can help younger kids pique their interest in either, ‘Yes, I do want to go into the medical field’ or ‘No, I don’t want to go into the medical field.’ It’ll just kind of help with picking your career choice,” said Fjeldheim.

Health sciences teacher Brittany Hubbart leads the ‘Gateway to CNA’ class and hopes Toni will give students an understanding of what working with real patients will look like.

“I think sometimes, students think about health care and they’re like, ‘Oh, I can’t do blood’ or ‘Oh, I can’t do this,’ but this allows them to try things on patients that are not living, and so, gets that fear away from them,” said Hubbart.

With an ongoing shortage of health care workers, especially in rural areas, piquing the interest of students early is key to solving the problem.

“How can we have this experience for these kids who are in a rural setting, but the health care field is so in need of them? How can we have those experiences young enough where they want to continue that experience post-secondary?” said Hubsch.

According to Hubbart, Toni is already doing just that only three days into the school year.

”I think already, now that they’ve seen it, a couple of them have expressed interest in becoming a CNA. They are already so excited to start doing things on the mannequins that I’m having a hard time. We’ve got to go over history first!” said Hubbart.

Hubbart hopes that starting next semester, her students in the Gateway to CNA class will be able to get certified in class by using tools like Toni.