William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Friday, 18, July, 2008

Course Action Form

Filed under: Forensics,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 11:16

I’m flattered, that a lot of my students at the University (above) have been asking me if I could teach another course. It’s nice when they want you to teach them again. The demand for forensic courses has been steady over these past couple of years, and the Department of Anatomy has two forensic classes, and, pending administrative approval, there’ll be a couple more.

However, you just can’t go and say “I’m going to teach a class on X,” There’s a lot of fiddling around you need to do, if nothing else to make sure the course number is correct (once used, a course number can’t be re-used for a generation, to prevent confusion). Then it has to go to the Graduate Education Committee (Gecko) and a whole load of folks have to sign off on a “Course Action Form”. The vast majority of the CAF is to pigeonhole it properly, number of hours, kind of course, all of that. The course name and catalogue description are useful to, to advertise it.

The final page, though is the justification for the course. And, of course, there has to be more than “I’m interested in it and so are the students.” Or even “It seemed like a good idea”. For this one, the Forensic Anatomy of Drug Abuse, I said:

Drug abuse is a far-reaching problem in American society. Alcohol is a contributing factor in one-half to three-quarters of all hospital admissions. Cocaine and heroin use is widespread. Anabolic steroids in baseball are the subject of congressional investigations.

This course will explore the anatomic basis for drug use and abuse, from the changes in embryo-genesis, to the neurological circuitry influencing reward, tolerance, and withdrawal, and the anatomic effects of the use of alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, opiates, hallucinogens, and steroids. All organ systems in the body are affected, with consequences as varied as squamous metaplasia of the bladder in smokers, portal hypertension in alcoholics, to cardiovascular effects of cocaine, and the association of glomerulonephritis with heroin use.

This covers the four core disciplines of anatomy: neuroanatomy, gross anatomy, microscopic anatomy and embryology, and looks at the practical applications of those disciplines in the context of drugs of abuse. As the medical school is expanding its interest in public health disciplines, the course may also attract straight medical students as well as graduate students from anatomy, pathology, and even pharmacology. Frankly, I’d prefer the graduate students, at $1200/credit hour the more graduate students I teach the happier my department chair is with me.



  1. Do you have to do a big write up on how the programs are going to assess whether your class met the program goals?

    I wish our grad program had your budgeting.

    Comment by Bardiac — Friday, 18, July, 2008 @ 16:44 | Reply

  2. Too much use of logic.

    Comment by Rogue Medic — Tuesday, 22, July, 2008 @ 12:48 | Reply

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