Skip the Inbox!

16 Oct
A message from the HAPS Executive Director, Peter English.

A message from the HAPS Executive Director, Peter English.

The HAPS-L discussion group is one of the most incredible benefits of HAPS membership.  If you have a question, our community of 600 members (and growing) is there to help.  If you have a question about a book, more often than not, it is the author of the book who replies to your questions.  It is amazing.

Of course, when a topic heats up, what can also be amazing is watching your inbox blow up with 40+ emails while you were in class.  That has only happened to me once, but once was enough and thankfully, there are some easy ways to manage this possibility.  

For the HAPS-L discussion group, I ask my email provider to bypass the part of my inbox that counts and send the emails “somewhere else.” Then I have the freedom to check in on the discussion when it is convenient for me, without the risk of losing other important emails in the storm of HAPS-L discussion posts.  When I feel like the time is right, I go to that “somewhere else “and see what has been happening on the HAPS-L discussion group.  I get to check in on my time, and never experience the trauma of 40 unread emails as I look at my phone on the way out of class.  

So, how do you achieve this peace?  You translate what you want your email to do into the words that google (and other providers) want to hear.  I am going to give the example of a google/gmail account because that is our official discussion group provider in the domain.

The best way to set this up is at the server level.  The server collects your email for you, and then you use various devices to ask the server what it has for you.  Computers, tablets, phones all just ask the server what it has and then they report it to you.  If you look at an email on one device, the server tells all the other devices that you’ve already seen it.

So, assuming you have a gmail account (or are willing to use one), you would do the following:

  1. Tell the server that anything with [HAPS-L] in the subject gets the “HAPS-L label”
  2. Tell the server that anything with [HAPS-L] in the subject “skips the inbox”
  3. Tell the server that anything with [HAPS-L] in the subject is “never important”

And today’s your lucky day- because I’m going to tell you how to do this.

First you will go to settings and create the label for this set of email.  In most email programs this label will look and behave like a folder.  

1. Open settings:


2. Open labels settings


3. Give a name to your new label and hit CREATE


Now you are going to set up the rules that will evaluate all incoming email, identify the email you want to manage, and do what you say to do.

1. Open settings as before if that is not still open.  Choose FILTERS this time at the top, not LABELS.

2. You can obviously do lots here, but I prefer to use the subject identifier that we add to all groups in hapsconnect.  This example shows the subject identifier [HAPS-L] which is what we use for the discussion group subject lines.


3. Tell the filter what you want it to do with the email that matches your criteria.  I have found that the settings marked below work great for me with groups that produce lots of email.  I have it skip the inbox so that it is not adding to my unread message count or mingling with other work related email.  I also never allow it to be marked as important, because that would mix with other email.  And by applying the label that I just created, it will show up in the list on the left.  

On my computer where I have Apple Mail checking 5 different email accounts simultaneously, this label shows up as a folder.  


And that’s it!  Welcome to a cleaner, happier inbox!

Why do we teach A&P lab?

10 Oct

Dave is an assistant professor and director of the natural sciences program at American Public University System. He supports the HAPS Curriculum & Instruction committee with an emphasis on online instruction and laboratory learning.

A message from Dave Brashinger, member of the HAPS Curriculum and Instruction Committee.

A message from Dave Brashinger, member of the HAPS Curriculum and Instruction Committee.

Why do we include a laboratory component in the introductory A&P course sequence for nursing and allied health students? On the surface, this may appear to be a straightforward question. However, my discussions with fellow A&P educators over the years have revealed multiple perspectives and sometimes strongly held beliefs regarding the purpose of laboratory education.

As a distance A&P educator, I’m interested in understanding why we teach lab in order to figure out how to best achieve those learning goals through distance learning. Ideally, students should have the opportunity to achieve the same core learning outcomes regardless of the learning format (distance, hybrid, or physical laboratory).

Some of you may remember the laboratory instructor survey HAPS conducted in 2013. We collected data on what we were teaching in A&P lab and had some thought-provoking discussions of the survey results at the 2014 Eastern regional and Annual conferences. We have just released the 2016 version of the survey and I’m excited to see that many instructors have already participated.  

The 2016 survey focuses on the following questions:  

  • What are your priorities for the laboratory experience?
  • Which inquiry skills are performed by students in your lab?
  • Do you have learning outcomes specific to your lab component?
  • Do your students perform the HAPS learning outcomes identified for the lab?
  • Which activities, materials, or techniques do you currently use in your A&P lab?

The survey is available here until December 4, 2016. Participants will be entered into a drawing for an Amazon gift card (one $100 gift card and four $50 gift cards), sponsored by ADInstruments. (Thank you ADInstruments!)

So, tell me…why do you teach A&P lab?

Freedom….kind of…

3 Oct

Becca’s back!  Becca Ludwig is an experienced HAPS blogger and brought us a series of five posts in March 2015 from the A&P student perspective.  Now we get to hear from her again, this time as successful graduate!  

A message from Becca!

A message from Occupational Therapist, Becca Ludwig.

For nearly three years now, I have been a member of HAPS – first as a student and now as an occupational therapist in the professional world of health care.   I have to admit that I feel liberated now that I am done with school; however, in many ways, it seems like I’m actually still in school.

I can honestly say that I have not missed the daily grind of going to class and then going home to study and do homework. I also have absolutely no guilt about sitting around and watching TV rather than walking around with a stack of 500 note cards that I have to stay up all night to learn.   It has been great to be out of school!  My initial thought after graduating was that with all of my new-found free time, I could probably start up a new hobby – or connect with old friends. Those were my thoughts for a little while…. until the big-kid world hit me.


It was soon after I began working that I realized that those in the health care field are expected to continue to learn and apply evidence-based practice. While in school, I thought words like “evidence-based practice” were just a few buzz-words used in research classes.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that in reality they actually do mean something! In fact, evidence-based practice is the process of integrating clinical expertise, patient values, and sound research into the decision-making process for patient care.  That means that reading journal articles for new and emerging practice techniques and participating in continuing education classes are strongly required. And the good news is that these educational opportunities are often paid for!  So my freedom from reading countless journal articles and sitting in class was short-lived, but I’m glad that my profession gives me the opportunity to still learn. In fact, I’ve realized that everyone, whether in the health care profession or not, really should be a lifelong learner in order to provide the best care, technique, and/or service to the recipient.  



Making your Collegiate-Level A&P Course Camp-Friendly!

19 Sep
A message from Dani Waters, Communication Committee ROCK STAR and graduate student at Penn State University.

A message from Dani Waters, Communication Committee ROCK STAR and graduate student at Penn State University.

Dani is the current laboratory coordinator for the undergraduate mammalian anatomy labs at Penn State University. In 2014 she received the HAPS and Primal Pictures scholarship, allowing her to attend her first annual conference in Jacksonville. Once she finishes her Master’s degree, Dani hopes to pursue a career in Anatomy Education.

I was approached last Fall to take over a Pre-Med summer camp for Penn State’s Science Outreach Program. Because I have never been a summer camp participant or counselor, I was nervous about being in charge of something so large (I had a staff of 22 college students and 75 middle school campers). In my opinion, the camp was a huge success in large part because we modeled our camp activities after our college A&P courses. Since we design our own lab manuals, have models, specimens, and equipment available, and train teaching assistants every semester, I simply made a few modifications to adapt my curriculum to meet the needs and comprehension-level of a new, younger audience.

Dani with a group of 8th graders, inflating pig lungs.

Dani with a group of 8th graders, inflating pig lungs.

Each day we covered a different body system(s). The campers first examined the basic structures and general functions and then were able to explore medical applications. By the end of the day, they could diagnose patients and learn more about specific diseases.  Campers were very proud of themselves when they could use medical devices and perform experiments that doctors would normally perform (for example, testing blood samples to see which patient had diabetes). Just like real doctors!


5th grade campers working through an EEG exercise.

Hands-on activities where students could touch and see the anatomy and physiology were the most popular. Many campers agreed that the dissections were their favorite part, while others loved ultrasound, blood pressure, and EEG. The greatest challenge for writing the camp curriculum was trying to be concise without leaving out important material. It was hard to gauge just how long it would take an 11-year-old to find the large bones in the skull, or to identify different organs, because that was something I had never had to do before.

Next summer I will eliminate some anatomical structures from our list, and include more game-like activities. Our college students are preparing for a career in medicine, while these kids are trying to enjoy their summer with some fun science education. Pretending to be real doctors solving medical mysteries (and having fun while doing it) was the primary objective for the camp, and I feel that we met that goal.

Please check out our YouTube video to see some of the fun activities campers experienced!

Many Hands…

11 Sep
A message from the Communications Committee Chair, Wendy Riggs.

A message from the Communication Committee Chair, Wendy Riggs.

I’ve been a HAPS member for 5 years now, and my membership is BY FAR the most rewarding and fruitful professional development resource in my toolkit. Because of its incredible value, I am quick to line up to give BACK to HAPS. I’ve been the Communication Committee chair for over two years now, I participate on the listserv and share whatever I can, and HAPS membership is always the first thing I recommend to people who ask me for advice regarding anything related to A&P teaching.

In large part due to HAPS, I am currently in year three of my four-year tenure process. Being in the midst of this rigorous and reflective undertaking has pushed me up to the edges of my craft. I find myself with more things that I want to do, than there is time in which to do them. I have to make hard decisions about where to invest my precious moments, while maintaining a family too, and this is tricky. But my participation in HAPS leadership is never on the chopping block.

So I’m taking some time write this quick post, because we all benefit tremendously from this society. One of my favorite things to do at the HAPS Annual Conference is to chill with the “old timers.” (First timers are cool too!)  I am really moved by the people who not only BEGAN this organization that we all love, but who continue to participate in its events and support its growth. These people are inspiring to me, because I understand all work that must be done in their own lives…and yet they make space to support and nurture HAPS too.


HAPS 2013 Annual Conference in Las Vegas!

I tell this story often…but before deciding to attend my first annual conference (in Las Vegas), I wrote a quick note to the listserv, asking if it was “worth it.” It makes me laugh, now, to think back on that naive question. HAPSters, in true HAPSter form, came out of the woodwork to encourage me to attend the event. I even remember people saying things like, “You HAVE to come to Vegas! You’re already part of the family!” And although many old timers say Vegas was one of the least fun annual conferences (!), I really was completely blown away by the richness of the experience.

When I think of HAPS, I think of many hands. Many hands working together to make this organization happen. Many hands reaching out to bring new people into the mix. Many hands helping us all become better teachers.

Many image shared by Nikki and Sharon McCutcheon. CC-BY.

Many hands…

Want to help?  Give me a holler

Teaching in Tanzania

29 Aug
Julie Doll

Here is a message from HAPS Communication Committee member, Julie Doll.

A team of dentists, orthodontists, and dental hygienists led by Dr. Lisa Alvetro from Sidney, Ohio, makes yearly trips to Tanzania and runs a clinic out of an orphanage near Tarime. Julie attended one of these trips in 2014, during which she spent mornings doing construction work on a new kitchen for the orphanage and afternoons teaching science classes in the attached school.

When I first arrived in Tanzania, in February 2013, I had no idea what to expect. I was taking part in a mission trip to the Angel House Orphanage and Secondary School and would be teaching science classes in the school. I wondered, “How old are the students? What is their background in science? Can they understand English? Where am I even teaching these classes?” I was also nervous that I wouldn’t have anything to use in my demonstrations. Any anxiety I had was immediately relieved when I walked into the classroom and saw the desks, chalk boards, and a model skeleton in the corner. The students I worked with were amazing. They were all so intelligent, eager to learn, and very respectful of their instructors. They even stood up when I entered or left the room!

I brought textbooks, some lab supplies, a microscope, and a stethoscope with me. They had been donated from my undergraduate university and a local pharmacy. Some of the supplies were for a DNA extraction that we did on the first day. I was very happy that everything made it through customs and I was actually able to do this one. On the third day of my visit I taught blood flow through the heart and showed them how to use the stethoscope. It was easy to tell when a student had found his or her heartbeat because their faces would light up with excitement. I think having something tactile to work with was especially helpful in this setting. Although the students were able to understand my English, any language barriers that may have been present could be overcome by having some sort of lab equipment to work with. It meant that even if they could not understand me speaking to them, these students could still discover the topics themselves.

At the end of one of my lectures, the students’ teacher asked me to stand up at the front of the room. I will never forget what he said. “Do you know what she is? She is a scientist and she is a woman. I want you to see her as a role model and a challenge, because she is proof that women can make it in science and medicine.” Later, some of the girls from my class came up to me and said that they wanted to be nurses. I felt so honored that I could be an inspiration for someone. That was probably the most important thing I brought to their school.


Julie teaching in Tanzania.

Julie Doll is a graduate student studying human anatomy at The Ohio State University. She completed her undergraduate degree in biology at the University of Saint Francis in Illinois in 2013. While there she worked as a teaching assistant in gross anatomy and human dissection courses for two and a half years. Julie joined HAPS in 2015. Following the regional meeting in Cincinnati she joined the Communications Committee and currently runs the HAPS LinkedIn page.



Guided Inquiry Materials for the First Day of Class

22 Aug
Murray learns from Dr. Fink at double time speed during breakfast while reading the newspaper and enjoying his morning coffee!

A message from HAPS member Murray Jensen.

Experienced educators know that the first day of the semester is by far the most important in terms of setting the tone for student behaviors and expectations.  During the first class meeting, students learn such things as:  Will we be sitting quietly? Working in groups?  Do I really need to show up for class?  Introducing changes to classroom policies such as tardiness, extra credit options, and cell phone use is much more difficult in the 3rd or 4th weeks than on the first day.  And the same is true for pedagogy; if you want students to be working in groups in weeks 3, 4, and beyond, it’s best to get them working in groups on the first day.  In my classes I aim for the 10-minute mark – I want students working in groups and talking to each other quickly after my introduction to the course.

Two things must be done prior to having students begin any group activity.  First, the instructor must organize students into groups.  Second, the instructor must give them a simple introductory task that helps them learn a bit about the other members in the group.  An experienced teacher might give the following instructions in a large Anatomy and Physiology class:

“I want you to work in groups of 3 or 4, so find 2 to 3 other people to work with for today, and then organize yourselves in a circle.  After that, I want you to introduce yourselves by saying your names, your favorite food, and your dream job that you want to have in 10 years.  Once you are done, raise your hands and I’ll give your group the first activity.  Everybody should be able to get this all done in the next 3 or 4 minutes.  GO!”

It’s always good practice to let students talk about themselves before jumping into an activity.  Questions such as “what is your favorite food?” and “what is your dream job?” give everyone something to say and require a low level of trust, which occurs as people first become acquainted.

Over the past few years I’ve used two different guided inquiry lessons on the first day of class; Levels of Organization Activity, which is a core concept to all human anatomy and physiology, and Medical Terminology Activity, which introduces students to prefixes, roots, suffixes, and eponyms.  Both are short in duration (15 to 20 minutes) and relatively easy for students to complete with minimal instructor direction. I’ve even got some Instructions for Students, to ensure everyone begins on the same page.

While students are working on the activity, students’ hands will go up as questions occur such as “What’s the answer to question 8?”  During a guided inquiry activity, it’s important for the instructor not to give direct answers to students’ questions, but rather give hints, clues, and when possible, follow up with additional questions.  Again, on the first day of class you are setting the tone, and in an inquiry classroom, the role of the instructor is an instigator of thought more than a fount of information.  Offering hints or clues is acceptable, but you should resist the urge to give answers.  At the end of the activity when all groups have finished, the instructor can engage in a large-group discussion with the class to review answers.  It is here that the instructor might say, “Question 8 caused some groups problems; anybody have an answer for Question 8?”  And it is here at the very end of the activity, that answers to specific questions can be confirmed by the instructor.

The Summer 2016 edition of the HAPS Educator in now available.  In that edition, I have shared some pieces on teaching with inquiry and cooperative learning.  And the two activities included above will help you and your students with something to do on the first day.  If you like these, send me a note and I’ll forward you a couple more.  (Murray Jensen –  Finally, the two activities linked here are a part of a larger set that can found on the HAPS Website under “Guided learning activities for A & P.”

Time for some SUMMER!

12 Jun

Your HAPS Bloggers are going offline for the summer. We’ll be back in August sometime with more fun and excitement from the Communication Committee.

Skully enjoying the summer in San Diego!

Skully enjoying the summer in San Diego.

HAPS in Atlanta: Social Media MADNESS!

5 Jun
A message from the Communications Committee Chair, Wendy Riggs.

A message from the Communication Committee Chair, Wendy Riggs.

Once again, HAPS put on a phenomenal annual conference. I was proud to call myself a “4th Timer” this year, and am looking forward to being a “5th Timer” next year in Salt Lake City.

30_yrsAs usual, the update speakers were phenomenal, the posters diverse and interesting, the vendors helpful and enthusiastic, and the workshops inspiring. And of course, I’ve heard nothing but RAVING ENTHUSIASM about the post-conference field trip to the CDC. But there was something new at this conference that added a really fun and engaging spice to the event.

It was the HAPS app, a small bit of technology that Executive Director Peter English unveiled in his May 9 blog post.  He advertised the app as being our normal app (to help us get around and keep up with the schedule and any changes)…but on STEROIDS. And he wasn’t joking. The app was a fantastic way to engage with HAPSters all week long in a frenzy of social media madness.  (As the Communication Committee Chair, I was impressed with all the chatter!)

App shot CommentNow…I must admit that I mostly used the app to complain about my painful transition from West Coast time to East Coast time.  But my whining was just a small part of the whole social media CRAZY that bubbled through the app all week.


There were messages about food…and drink. There were messages in which pleas for help were being made.

App shots 1-2

There were lots and lots of pictures of HAPSters with Einstein, of course. And then there was the picture of Valerie O’Loughlin with five pounds of fat. I’m not quite sure what that was about.

App shots 3-4

The really fun thing is that you can still download the app and take a look at the all that chatter.  And start saving your pennies for Salt Lake.  I am!

Your bloggers are having too much fun!

25 May
A message from the ComCom

A message from the ComCom Chair, Wendy Riggs

It’s true!  The blogging team is rockin’ the scene in Atlanta and we’re having way too much fun to blog!

30_yrsBut don’t worry- the Queen of Blogs herself (that would be ME!) is rounding up some superstars to keep you entertained in the months to come. Curious?  Let’s just say I’ve got a verbal commitment from Geezer Gab founder and HAPS President Emeritus Bill Perrotti, and even managed to squeeze a blog promise out of another President Emeritus, Gary Johnson!  Let me tell you, coaxing these old timers into the blogosphere is no small feat!

So stay tuned– we’ll have more Atlanta reports for you soon.  (And yes– we ARE all making plans for fun times next year in Salt Lake City.)



Enjoy the lovely Atlanta skyline while participating in the HAPS fun walk/run.