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Utah’s Newest Home for Learning about the Dead

Embalming fluid. Photo credit here.

Embalming fluid. Photo credit here.

Have you ever heard of mortuary science schools? Most of us have not and so this qualifies as an emerging trend in our 21st century world. Many questions that have sparked debates on such schools have been left unanswered and more research about this is being carried out to ascertain what these schools entail, why they were formed, where they are and when they will begin their surprisingly mysterious operations.

Salt Lake Community College is one of the many colleges in Utah and has been interested in setting up mortuary science schools with the aim of giving relevant education to aspiring funeral directors. This comes as good news for those aspirants since, unlike earlier on, they won’t have to move out of the state to seek funeral education. Hopefully, other institutions in the state will also get in the game.

This degree will be a 66 credit-hour associates degree which will be offered in the school’s campus based in South Jordan. This will also ease the lengthy periods of time in making funeral homes which have been owned, managed and operated by members of the family.

According to the senior vice president of Larkin Mortuary in Utah, Mr. Rob Larkin, most people have had to go out of the state or online to learn funeral education, an effect which has reduced the number of aspirants successfully getting the education. In the quest of this education, many have hard to travel to California and Colorado to receive relevant mortuary training where they go for 18 to 24 months.

Sherrie Loewen, who will oversee one of these program in mortuary science among other degrees in health sciences, outlines that this is a very demanding, multi-talented degree and it will serve apart from Utah, the neighboring communities of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to train students in taking up funeral doctors’ jobs. According to one licensed funeral director, Melissa Larkin, the SLCC degree program will have a positive effect for locals who want to live and still study in Utah.

Among the many colleges in Utah, SLCC has stood out to offer the degree, one they believe is very relevant according to the current and emergent social trends. They have so far begun the accreditation process that will conclude after the first mortuary science cohort finish their course. Students must pass a board exam after graduation and then seek license in the respective states they would like to work in. In Utah, 2000 hours and 50 embalming of work experience and taking national and state board exams is a requirement for students so that they may obtain a degree.

Half of SLCC’s cadaver lab has been converted to an embalming lab, and other local funeral homes have decided to offer their facilities to ensure students get additional training. The state is thus offering students another educational option that can withstand the turmoil of a collapsing economy and one that cannot be affected by recession. They began their degree on January 2012 with a class capacity of 25 students. Thus, other mortuary science schools are set to follow suit.

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