Dissection

Wow, I can’t believe how quickly the year is flying by.  At this rate, the end of the year will be here before I know it, and my end of semester exams are just around the corner (in all honesty, I’m a little bit terrified by this prospect).  I don’t feel I know enough to be examined on.

This week, we had our first dissection class, and it was a rather interesting experience.  I don’t think I’ve dissected anything since year 8 biology, and that was a very long time ago.  Walking into the gross anatomy facility I was incredibly nervous, and was wondering if I’d be able to somehow escape the lab, without actually picking up the dissection tools.

A small part of my apprehension came from my lack of experience, but the majority stemmed from the simple fact that lying on that cold metal slab were the remnants of another human being.  Someone who had loved and was loved. A person who would have laughed and cried.  Who likely bounced children and possibly grandchildren on their lap, and rocked them to sleep with the very elbow awaiting my lab group on that cold slab.

Trying to disconnect that part of my brain from the task at hand was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  And just when I thought I had accomplished it, something small would grab my attention, such as the hair still protruding from the leathery, preserved skin, and remind me anew that this arm belonged to someone who had lived.

The absolute generosity shown by these people, who donate their bodies to science is incredible, and something I am grateful for.   A classmate of mine commented that they had learned more from this one dissection, than they had in our regular anatomy lab (with plastic models and pots) and to some extent I agree with them.

I should point out, that the objective of this dissection class was not for us to learn anatomy, but rather to get a feel for surgical instruments and how they interact with the human body.  It was to practice our technique, and understand the purpose and use of different instruments.  To feel the different layers encountered when cutting into a body, and to be aware that cutting what you can’t see is a very bad idea, lest you sever something you had no intention of severing.

However, I don’t think the actual dissection by students is necessary in learning anatomy. It is useful for putting everything in to perspective, but it is time consuming with very little gain.  I do think the use of wet specimens/ pro-sections however is incredibly helpful in putting the whole picture together. Unfortunately we don’t have wet specimens / pro-sections in our normal anatomy classes, and I do think this would aid in anatomy understanding.

We have another dissection class next week, and while I’m not dreading it like I was last week, I’m not eagerly anticipating it either!

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Blink and you’ll miss it!

And just like that, I’ve finished four weeks of medical school! Where has the time gone? I can’t quite believe I’m preparing to start week 5.  In all honesty, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.  It’s been a while since I studied, and even then I was never the best student.  I feel like I’m falling behind already, and that nothing is sinking in.  I feel like I know nothing, while everyone around me, does.

I think part of the problem stems down to my PBL group, who seem exceptionally switched on, with a wealth of experience.  One is from allied health with many years experience, one a first year repeater who has done all of these cases before, a couple of recent biomed grads who seem on top of it all, and a few others who don’t say much (so are probably in the same boat as I am).  I seem to spend so much of my time working on my PBL question for the week, that it doesn’t leave much room for anything else.

I wonder where I’ll find the time to learn all I need to learn.  I knew that I would be exposed to a great deal of information quickly, but I’m not sure I quite comprehended how much, and making the links between the segregated areas is proving a little challenging at the moment.   Add to that, I’m really not sure how much I’m supposed to be doing.

This is most evident in my clinical coaching sessions.  So far, we’ve only covered history taking, but next week we start in on the CVS exam.  I’m really hoping things pick up with the examination part, because I’m feeling so lost in history taking.  Part of the problem is the coach we have has never taught clinical coaching at my university before, and doesn’t really seem to know what’s going on.  He’s also from another country, and while he seems nice enough, he waffles, and keeps relating everything back to his own country.

If that weren’t enough, because he doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing I am really feeling the “teach yourself medicine” come through in this course.  To be honest, I expected it with the medical sciences, but I didn’t with clinical skills.  In our first real session, he walked into the room, told us he had other stuff to do, and would be back in 30 minutes. In the meantime we should practice CVS history taking on each other and then he’d see how we were going when he came back.

IN OUR FIRST SESSION.  So it was a mad scramble to try and figure out what the hell we were supposed to do from our guidebook provided by the university.  He then came back, and critiqued us all with rather unhelpful advice, asking why we didn’t ask about X, Y, Z conditions none of had heard of before, while rambling on with irrelevant stories from back in his home country.

I guess I should look at it from the perspective that this is what a life in medicine entails so I should get used to it now, but damn it, I’m really disliking clinical coaching which I thought would be the best part of the course.  I’m lost and confused and overwhelmed by the whole course at the moment.