Cadaveric dissection is a must experience for all medical student – either it brings a wonderful experience or a nightmare. My first impression about cadaveric dissection collapsed once I have experience the session myself. I though it must be in a creepy atmosphere, with a fleshy and bloody cadaver, bad smell and scary dissecting room.
However, after my first session, I appreciated that it is not that bad and honestly I am starting to like it. I can still remember clearly the moment I walked into the dissecting room for the first time in my life- the atmosphere was kind of weird.
I felt a mixture of feelings- scared, nervous, and confused but at the same time I felt extremely excited. After wearing the gown and goggles, I stepped into the dissecting room still with confusion. As soon as I arrived and stood beside my cadaver, I just couldn’t stand the smell but after going through the session I realised that I was able to get used to it. Throughout the dissecting session, I slowly built up a sense of feeling that my cadaver will be my greatest teacher for the next two years as it will virtually teach me about the complexities of the human body, how the systems work and link it to one another.
I am touched by his generosity- his tremendous effort to donate his body and allow us to discover the greatest and the most amazing creation in the world- the complexities of the human body. I realised that the dissecting session was not just another session for learning anatomy but was absolutely more than that. It was a session which has taught me a precious lesson that I will remember for the rest of my life- a good person shall always benefit others anywhere, anytime, either they are alive or dead. When he died at the age of 73 due to ischaemic bowel problem, it did not mean his life ended there.
He was actually entering a new phase in his life, being a wonderful teacher to my fellow group mates and me. He is the one who will guide us through a magical trip throughout the human body and experience a journey to body space. The identity of the cadaver remains anonymous and his face is being covered throughout the session. This basically teaches me an important lesson- the importance of confidentiality in medical profession. General medical council really stress out the importance of confidentiality for every doctor registered with it.
For a doctor, confidentiality is an important duty since confidentiality is the central to trust between doctors and patients.  When I’m observing my GP consultation, I noticed that she really concern about the patient confidentiality and respect patients’ right to confidentiality. One important thing that I had observed at first was that everybody had their own style when dealing with different situations. Some people looked very calm, while the others, and me, especially, felt nervous. Helping each other to calm down brought us closer to one another.
This introductory session helped us to build chemistry with one another, thus making our learning process easier next time. I still remember the moment when Professor Evan started to uncover the cadaver; some of my colleagues fell and collapsed. Everyone seemed to react in different way. However, even though I felt nervous and a little bit afraid, I was able to go on with the session after my fellow colleagues kindly comforted me. We held our hands together and tried to open up our minds and be strong.
This situation basically taught me more about the meaning of teamwork and cooperation. From my personal point of view, working in a team for cadaveric dissection actually gives me the opportunity to learn more about teamwork and hopefully it will help me as a doctor in the future. When I’m having the” Inter-professional Learning Workshop” with nursing and social work students a few weeks later, I then discovered the significance of team work and how it can help me in the future when working in a big, inter-professional field.
The dissecting session helped me to understand myself better, I found that I’m a kinaesthetic learner; I should involve actively in the learning process by touching, feeling and carrying out all the procedure myself in order to make me understand a particular lesson better. During the anatomy lecture, I thought I understood what the lecturer was trying to talk about- origin, insertion, ya I just took them for granted. But during the session, when my instructor asked me about the point of origin and insertion of pectoralis major and pectoralis minor, I was having difficulties recalling hat I have learned in lectures and relating it to the cadaver. Then I recognized that I should have prepared myself first before going to any session and should never have assumed that I understood something without ever reflecting on it. However, the experience of being able to see, touch and palpate the muscles, have definitely helped me understand more about the point of insertion and origin and thus being able to relate the structure with its function.
I found that after the session, when I was doing revision, I could easily remember the structures by recalling what I have learned in the dissecting room. Seeing somebody cutting off a small piece of fat using a scalpel may sound easy but when you are doing it on your own, it is not as easy as that. However, as I went through the process, I realised we developed our skills through practice because practice definitely makes perfect. To be honest, I’m the type of person who is afraid to make mistakes.
I felt a lack of confidence when the instructor asked me to fix the blade into the scalpel in front of everybody else. I didn’t want them to laugh at me if I was doing it the wrong way. However after the session, I kind of regretted it because I didn’t grab the opportunity to improve my skills. From the incident, I realised that in order to learn and improve my knowledge and skills, I should not be afraid of trying something new or making mistakes. Humans definitely learn from mistakes.
Besides that, working in a group of 8 students really helped me to learn very well. After reviewing a particular structure, one of my colleagues would explain briefly about it. And then, every one of us would share any extra information we have about the said structure. Before this, with the limited time I have, I found that it was quite difficult for me to read and learn everything about a particular subject on my own. However, throughout this session, I observed and felt that interactive and active learning by sharing information much easier and enjoyable.
Everyone has their own strength and sharing your knowledge with others would definitely make you become much better. Overall, cadaveric dissecting session is not just a normal academic session but it is more than that. I learned about humanity, respect and teamwork. This is a golden opportunity for me to reflect on what I have learned in lectures, explore my own strength and weaknesses, and thus help me understand myself better. I love my anatomy sessions. To my dearest cadaver, thanks a lot, you are my greatest teacher!