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!