This was a birthday surprise unlike any other – a unique party with a rather unusual surprise gift – honoring Jim Scheffler, better known by many in Kokomo as Dr. Scheffler, cardiologist.
Thanks to wife Kathy, and her donation, the Anatomy/Physiology Laboratory in Ivy Tech Kokomo’s new Health Professions Center will be named in his honor.
The gift was unveiled in July with a surprise celebration at the conclusion of a private tour of the new center for healthcare education. Kathy talked about why Ivy Tech, and its students, have such an important spot in their hearts; it all goes back to their own experiences.
Jim and Kathy met while students at the University of California Santa Barbara and both worked while completing their educations. Kathy completed hers at Marymount College in Tarrytown, N.Y., a member of the first graduating class of Marymount’s Weekend College program, while she worked for Merrill Lynch.
After working for IBM for a number of years, Jim decided to go to medical school at the age of 35. Then, after graduating from New York Medical College, he completed an internship at Dartmouth and fellowships in critical care at Massachusetts General and cardiology at University of Chicago.
“We both worked and went to school at the same time, like so many Ivy Tech students do,” Kathy said. “We understand that getting an education is extremely important and the sacrifices are worth it. This is why we believe in Ivy Tech. It provides a support structure for students to get an education, and work at the same time.”
The Schefflers came to Kokomo in July 1994 when Jim joined Northside Cardiology, which later became part of the care group now known as Ascension Heart Care. Kathy has been active in the Kokomo community, sharing her talents and enthusiasm as a volunteer for Samaritan Caregivers, Kokomo Community Concerts, Kokomo Symphony, Symposium, and P.E.O. Sisterhood.
She was happy to bring some of their closest friends – Dr. Kareem and Deina Abbasi and Rodney and Anamaria Shrock – to Ivy Tech to help celebrate Jim Scheffler’s birthday and share their love of Ivy Tech.
“The Ivy Tech project provides the best education and support for students of the community,” she said. “At graduation, a student has the opportunity for a good career and/or the opportunity to continue on to a better career. Education allows our community and businesses to have a viable workforce as well as a better, community-conscious population.”
When Ivy Tech announced the campaign to help fund the transformation of the Kokomo Campus, Kathy knew she wanted to contribute. “I chose the anatomy/physiology room because Jim Scheffler loved physiology in medical school,” she said. “These studies are the backbone of all medicine. Without that knowledge, nothing makes sense.
“The anatomy/physiology room was so perfectly ‘him,’” she continued. “It’s hard to find birthday presents for him, so the two just came together!”
At the birthday party, Ivy Tech Kokomo Chancellor Dean McCurdy extended words of appreciation.
“The support from community members like Dr. Jim and Kathy Scheffler has been critical in realizing the dreams of so many people to provide great education in a quality environment,” he said. “The Dr. James M. Scheffler and Katherine L. Scheffler Anatomy/Physiology Laboratory will be an incredibly important asset in the education of generations of healthcare workers in the Kokomo Service Area.”
Every birthday party needs a little fun – and Jim Scheffler’s birthday party was no exception. But instead of flailing at a pinata or pinning a tail on a donkey, he got some hands-on experience with one of Ivy Tech’s high-tech educational tools. Guided by Ivy Tech science professor Dr. Gauri Pitale, he navigated some of the many offerings of the anatomage table.
Ivy Tech Kokomo has three of these computerized anatomy tables to offer life-size digital interactive human bodies that students can dissect and reassemble on a tablet-like surface.
With Pitale’s help, Jim Scheffler examined the heart of one “patient,” moving digitally down, around, and through the organ he has devoted his life to. He and fellow surgeon Dr. Kareem Abbasi were fascinated by the ability to virtually inspect the patient’s organs and tissues using the $100,000 machine without the downsides of a real human cadaver.
The anatomage program is created using detailed images taken in 3 mm increments from real human bodies. Students can remove layers, such as skin, muscles, and veins, to work with the digital bodies in different ways. Faculty members say that aside from the feel, the digital cadavers offer virtually everything real cadavers do.
“The anatomage allows students to go from studying gross anatomy to even studying minute structures in the body within a matter of seconds,” Pitale said. “It comes loaded with case studies that show pathologies, enabling students to view the pathology on an actual body instead of having to imagine it.”
Pitale, who earned a Ph.D. in medical anthropology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, brought more than 10 years’ experience teaching at the college level when she joined Ivy Tech Kokomo as an assistant professor last July. She finds the anatomage table a great benefit to her teaching.
“The hands-on learning experience allows students to engage in conversations with themselves and ask me further questions,” she said. “In terms of pedagogy, that is vital because by engaging students using this tool, they are able to better understand the concepts that I am introducing in class.”
The digital dissection table even allows students to view certain body processes “in real time.”
“For example, you can select a blood vessel and choose to have the anatomage show where the blood flows to and from that vessel,” she said. “That is incredible, and something students cannot see in an actual cadaver. I really enjoy using it as a tool to teach students.”