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Veterinarian becomes professor, leads anatomy class

Robert Wamble teaches in both the biology department and the School of Nursing. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)
Robert Wamble teaches in both the biology department and the School of Nursing. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)

JACKSON, Tenn.Nov. 26, 2012 – Robert Wamble believed God was possibly leading him toward a life of ministry and mission work when he retired in September 2009 as a veterinarian – a career he had practiced for about 30 years.

Wamble and his wife, Kay, spent the next few months praying for God’s direction. The longer he waited without work, the more he said he realized retirement was not what he expected.

“The bad thing about retirement is that I wasn’t making a difference anymore,” Wamble said. “I wasn’t making an impact – I wasn’t touching anyone anymore.”

Now an instructional staff member at Union University, Wamble said that God had much different plans for his life than he ever imagined.

Wamble explained that animals and humans share many similarities, from organ functions to medical conditions. When James Huggins, professor of biology, asked Wamble in January 2010 to help teach a gross anatomy class for the spring 2010 semester, Wamble said he simply had to think on two feet rather than four.

“The physiology is the same, so it made an easy transition to teaching nursing students,” Wamble said. “The School of Nursing was trying to bring a medical and physiological influence into the anatomy lab. That’s why I am here.”

Working as an instructional staff member in both biology and nursing, Wamble has duties as both a laboratory specialist for the biology department and an anatomist for the School of Nursing. His office and classrooms are located in the School of Nursing, while his classes are listed in the biology course catalog.

His goal for teaching in either department, however, is the same – for students to get the best education possible while appreciating God’s handiwork seen through his creation.

Wamble’s career was not the only change he would see occurring when he began working full time at Union in June 2010. He also has stood at the forefront of the undergraduate nursing gross anatomy program that began in spring 2012.

Gross anatomy students work in the nine simulation rooms in the School of Nursing, where they practice their medical skills on human simulators that reenact various health problems. Once nursing students finish their work in the simulation rooms, Wamble said he meets with them in the anatomy lab, where they discuss the conditions they treat, the medications they use and the impact their work has on the simulators.

“Medical students are visual learners,” Wamble explained. “So the more visual you can make it, the more they will retain it.”

Gross anatomy students also study cadavers to better understand the human body, Wamble said. Keeping at least eight cadavers in the lab, he said students get to see how God takes every part of the body and wraps it together.

“In medicine, you’re dealing with the body when it works abnormally,” Wamble said. “To understand what abnormal is, you first have to understand what normal is. And if you’re going to understand how the normal works, you’ve got to understand how it’s made.”

Wamble mentioned that only 1 percent of nursing schools offers students a gross anatomy program, which is the hands-on study of the entire human body. This statistic shows how unique Union is to be able to offer this class, he said.

As he researches new technology and teaching methods for the classroom, Wamble said he is thankful for the opportunity to instruct. He said teaching was a dream of his that he never knew would come true.

“We try to help direct God’s plans sometimes; he has different ideas,” Wamble said with a smile.

By Beth Byrd (’13)

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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