Getting ready for HAPS 2013 Conference!

HAPS 2013 Annual Conference in Las Vegas!

In just a few short days, the HAPS 2013 Annual Conference will begin. Until I became active in HAPS leadership, I was blissfully unaware of all of the prep required months and years before the conference. Somehow everything magically fell into place each May, and I had a fantastic time at our annual event.

I know better now. The annual conference would not come to be without conference organizers (HAPS members who volunteer to host the conference), their volunteers, and our wonderful management company, ASG. ASG employees Shanan and Robin do much of the ‘heavy lifting’ concerning scheduling a venue, arranging hospitality contracts, working with our vendors and exhibitors, handling registration, and ensuring all of the details fall into place. If you are coming to the conference, please take time out to thank them both for all of their hard work – they are irreplaceable! Our new Executive Director Peter has been phenomenal, working with ASG to make sure all goes smoothly at the meeting, and setting us up with our first HAPS meeting app. Be sure to go to Google Play or iTunes and download the HAPS 2013 app for the meeting!

Download the free HAPS 2013 app from Itunes or Google play
Download the free HAPS 2013 app from Itunes or Google play

Our current HAPS president, Dee, has been working tirelessly with all of these individuals to make sure the annual conference goes smoothly.  Since her first month as president, she has been in contact with all of the above individuals to make sure that all aspects of conference planning were in place.  Dee was (and is) the ‘go to’ person whenever any of the above individuals had a question or an unresolved issue concerning the conference.

Why all the fuss?  Well, in addition to being a fabulous social and intellectual experience, the annual conference is the major event that keeps HAPS afloat.  It is through the funds received from the conference that HAPS continues to exist and thrive.  No annual conference – no HAPS.  Simple as that.

So when I begin my tenure as HAPS president, I hope to be as successful as Dee was with the conference organization.  I am looking forward to working with the conference chairs for our 2014 annual conference.  In the meantime, I hope to see all of you in Las Vegas beginning this weekend!

6 Days and Counting!

Is anyone else as excited and anxious as I am for the HAPS Annual Conference?! My presentation is almost all squared away, and I get more excited by the day to meet all of you and have a chance to engage in some interesting and fruitful conversations. I hope we can use this week’s post to get each other energized and share some tips for the Conference!420-las-vegas-welcome-sign.imgcache.rev1343400150596

So, HAPS Veterans, tell us…

1. What can we expect from the Conference??

2. Have you had a chance to look over the schedule? What workshops or seminars have you added to your “MUST SEE” list?

3. Will you be presenting? When? Where? Who should go?

4. What are you most looking forward to?

I’ll start the discussion by answering a few of my own questions! 🙂

1. This is my first HAPS Conference! It will also be my first time in Vegas… So if you’re familiar with the area and see me, feel free to scoop me up and show me around!

2. Unfortunately, I will not be able to stay the whole week, but Tuesday alone has plenty of workshops I’m thrilled to attend… Especially the POGIL Workshops to see what activities Murray Jensen and his team will be presenting. I am also really interested in the “Mythbusters of A&P” by Ken Saladin (sounds really neat and helpful!), “Moving A&P Outside of the Classroom” by Sarah Straud (I think I could definitely apply some of these strategies and activities in my own classroom), and the “Case Study Approach to Teaching of Physiology” by Chaya Gopalan. Can’t wait to see what you all have in store for us!

… Speaking of not being able to attend the full Conference… Is there any way to still find out what was discussed during other workshops? Will there be posts, forums, or documents uploaded to the HAPS website or Conference app when it’s all said and done so we can keep the conversations going or see what we missed?

3. I will be presenting on Tuesday, from 9:30-10:30 in DA 110. Anyone who is interested in learning more about my experiences, challenges, and successes of being a High School A&P teacher should attend. I really hope we can collaborate together to strengthen the connections between high school teachers and our university counterparts (you)! 🙂

4. And here’s how I figure out why very general questions don’t always work… There are too many things I’m excited about to decide on just one!

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and seeing you at the Conference!

Conference Preparations!

The HAPS Conference is quickly approaching and I am anxiously awaiting its arrival. I downloaded the app and have started to make note of the presentations and workshops I’d like to attend. If you haven’t downloaded the app yet, go get it from the Apple app store/Android Marketplace (it’s awesome!)

If you look through the presentation options, you will see that, yes, yours truly will be presenting Tuesday morning! 🙂 I am really looking forward to chatting and meeting with you! That being said, this year is full of a lot of “firsts” for me, and this will be my first professional presentation of this calibre. I am sure most of you are very well accustomed to presenting to your colleagues and superiors and am hopeful you have a mental checklist or tips you could share! While I am very familiar with presenting to a group of high school students, I’m afraid my typical engagement and reinforcement tactics may not work on the HAPS audience! (But I could be wrong… How do you feel about stamps, stickers, and perhaps mildly inappropriate jokes?) 🙂

My students will be giving their final presentations shortly after I return from the conference so while this is definitely going to be a learning experience for me, I’m excited to turn it into a teachable moment in which I can share my preparation tips and strategies for giving an important presentation. So, what kinds of things do you look for in a “stellar” presentation? How do you prepare for an important presentation, or what would you recommend to your students? What kinds of questions should I prepare for? And lastly, I would like to include my students as much as possible in this experience (because after all, they’re the reason I’m here), so is there any information or questions you’d be interested in knowing about them before the conference or during my presentation? I plan to chat with them a bit this week about the conference and get their perspective and ideas.

And as this week comes to end, let me be the last to say, HAPPY TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK! You are greatly appreciated for all that you do! Some of my most memorable and formative moments happened with and because of my college professors, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. I hope you all received the recognition you deserve, and again, thank you!

Final Project – Research Papers

As the end draws near, I have finally decided on an end-of-year “project”, of sorts. I have asked my students to create a “Disease Diary” in which they research a disease from each of the body systems we have covered this year. I figure this is a project that will prepare them for many of the things they will do/see/study in college or encounter if they pursue a career in the medical field. Not only is this a summative assessment of their participation in my class, but many of my students do not have experience writing papers (especially not scientific papers) or utilizing peer-reviewed resources to do research; I am hopeful I can guide them through their research and writing to create well-referenced, high quality projects that will prepare them for the many papers and essays they will be required to write in the future. 

On that note, what databases or websites can I suggest my students visit to find peer-reviewed, primary sources that high school students can use to find information about various diseases and disorders? Many of my students are not native English speakers and have a rather limited scientific vocabulary (although I have tried my best to change that!) But if I do not provide specific sites and sources, I am afraid to see what kinds of things they might come up with! 🙂 I have been told before that when in doubt, use the references provided at the end of the wikipedia article, but I am still hesitant to suggest that. When I was in college, we had access to the library’s database of articles and books, but I am not sure what options our high school offers. As far as I know, the research will have to be done entirely through free, public databases. Do any of you have any suggestions or ideas??

And, lastly, what is your biggest “pet-peeve” in your students’ writing? I’d love to ensure I address those little annoyances! 🙂

Thanks for your suggestions!

Spring “Cleaning”

The first time I saw an advertisement for Colon Hydrotherapy was in 2004 in Phoenix, Arizona. The concept sounded quite frightening to me, and I couldn’t understand why it would be attractive to people. I was young, carefree, and with my diet overflowing with fruits, vegetables and whole grains, I couldn’t imagine what would prompt someone to seek out a colonic. Over the past 9 years, I have seen a steady increase in products on TV, websites, supplement stores, you name it, advertising “colon cleansing” products, claiming to treat not only chronic constipation but every sort of ailment.



In a time of “faster, sooner, now” it is hard for all of us to resist the temptation of products that make claims to both lose weight and help us feel healthier, which is why colon cleansing products have their own shelves in stores.



Regularity is a very fishy topic. I did a little digging and talking with GI doctors at work. Some recommend a bowel movement (no specifics) every other day, while others recommend something of forearm length every day. Ok, enough poop talk, but you can imagine the wide range that people fall into here, and how it can be easy to convince yourself that your bowel function is abnormal. Factor in stress, and the picture becomes even cloudier. I could spend a year blogging about the impact of the nervous system on GI function, rather disturbances in GI function, but let’s stick to the current question: “Is colon “cleansing” safe? Effective? What about herbal supplements versus hydrotherapy?

I recently was in and out of GI care for non specific symptoms such as pain, bloating, reflux, all of which ended up being resolved by tripling my water intake and decreasing stress through meditation. 3 MRIs and countless lab tests later, I couldn’t have felt sillier. Before I got a handle on my symptoms on my own, I was signed up for a 5 session package at a hydrotherapy clinic. When I mentioned this to my doctor, I was surprised that his reaction was not immediately negative. He said that some people have used it with success, others have been injured, so it seems to rely heavily on the quality of treatment delivery, and the reason for the constipation. He of course pointed out that the problem with this therapy and other natural therapies, which we’ve discussed, is a lack of clinical evidence. How, for example, can you do a randomized trial on a procedure like this? 

I completed a brief literature review, and as I expected, found it to be a very polarizing topic. The most fair and balanced review I found was in the International Journal of Clinical Practice. The abstract and overview are here, and if anyone would like the full text, I can email that to you.

I did not keep the appointments. Call my crazy, but the more I teach research and evidence-based medicine, the more critical and fearful I become of any products, treatments, or “expert opinions” that cannot substantiate claims beyond anecdotal support, however overwhelming. Do I believe that because there hasn’t been extensive controlled research into a treatment, that it is not effective for some people, or is a sham? Certainly not. I can especially believe that with hydrotherapy, given the fact that it is simply warm water, and enemas are water with a saline solution that are used quite frequently in clinical care. Not only that, some doctors prescribe that osmotic laxatives be used on a daily basis for some patients. Clearly, the topic requires continued investigation, and as disorders such as IBS with no clear cause become more common, I believe the safety, benefits and risks of colon cleansing in whatever fashion will become more clear. 

If anyone who is not too shy is willing to share any experiences with cleansing products, we’d love to hear from you!

Thank you for your readership, and best of health to you! 


Professional Development

Professional development is one of those buzzwords in academia that makes some people excited, and it makes others cringe. To me, the main reason for this difference in opinion is based on desire versus must do. Some people, like myself, desire to gain more knowledge and to be on the cutting edge in anatomy and physiology. People like me love professional development in all shapes and sizes. However, I am also a person that cringes at the thought of professional development. This occurs when someone (a supervisor) tells me that I HAVE TO take a certain training that a) I feel I am overqualified for, b) I don’t have time for, c) doesn’t apply to my job, or d) all of the above. This type of professional development seems to me to be a waste of my time.

I will focus here on the good side of professional development. Learning more about something that you are inspired about has never been easier. In this era of technology, it is pretty easy to find reputable sources of online material in anatomy and physiology. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of bad information out there.

There are three ways to obtain professional development online that I would like to discuss: MOOC’s, do it yourself, and actual online coursework.

MOOC is an acronym that has varying meanings depending upon whom you ask. Most say MOOC is massive open online course. The basic idea is that there are a couple platforms out there for MOOCs that offer coursework in literally dozens of areas. The pros of MOOCs is that they are generally offered by reputable universities and in a wide range of topics. The cons are that they are unofficial course (unless something is officially worked out with your employer), the courses do not count as credits, and the timing of the course may not meet your schedule.

You can just research and read for yourself. I’ve listed below 4 of my favorite free online resources.The big pro here is flexibility. The major con, of course, is that it is unofficial.

Respiratory physiology and pathophysiology –

Neuroscience –

Endocrinology –

and of course, the HAPS website –


Lastly, one can engage in actual online coursework. For many, this is a necessary aspect of being an instructor in higher education. Sometimes an accrediting body may question one’s credentials. Other times, someone might want to add a new field to their credentialing. Most credentialing bodies ask for 18 graduate hours of work in a field in which they teach. For those of us in anatomy and physiology, sometime it gets tricky. A&P is often taught in the biology department, thus HAPS has created the HAPS-Institute, which offers graduate level biology courses. I encourage you to visit the HAPS-I page by clicking HAPS-I to learn more.