Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Memorial Service

On Friday after our final exam for ACE, we had a memorial service for our cadavers. As far as I know, all med schools have some form of service at the end of their anatomy class to recognize and pay tribute to the donors' amazing contribution to our education. Our service was pretty short, and only our class and some faculty was present (at some schools, they invite the families of the cadavers as well). The faculty asked students to volunteer to read some remarks, about 2 minutes each, and I was one of the students that offered to read. Here is a copy of what I wrote for anyone that's interested in reading it.

I know how exhausted we all are from this long week of studying, so I want to keep my comments brief. I know that everyone is itching to get out of here and either take a nap, start partying, or start getting ahead for physiology... just kidding, I hope.

Any and all of us can attest to the greatness that is Frank Netter. In fact, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have passed this class without him and his atlas. But a drawing, no matter how detailed, can't compare to seeing and touching the real thing in front of you. How many times have we all struggled through TBLs without anything really clicking ... until you get to the lab and you finally have your lightbulb moment where everything just sort of clicks because you can actually see how it all fits together?

Without people willing to give their bodies to science, to students like us, we would never see that. If we didn't have dissections, then for every model that I would look at, I would always think, "Well how is that the same, and how is it different from in a real body?" But because of our cadavers, we know.

How odd to never know a person in life, but to know every in and out of his body - to know more about his physical structure than anyone who knew him his whole life ever will. And yet we don't really know them at all. I know that the cadavers are anonymous for good reason, but I can't help but wonder who they were when they were alive. It's hard to say thank you to someone you don't know and someone you'll never know. To someone whose family didn't get to have a burial service for their loved one so that we, 180 strangers (plus all the dental students), could have a learning experience.

Our relationship with our cadavers is really no relationship at all. And yet, I feel close enough to my cadaver to call him MY cadaver. He, and the rest of our cadavers, gave us the opportunity for this quintessentail med school school experience, and for that they will always be remembered.

info on donating your body to science

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