Foundations Curriculum Student Experience Blog: Lessons in Anatomy
Recently, we finished our neuroanatomy bell ringer exam, a style of test that involves rotating through various stations. Even though it’s not our last anatomy exam, it’s starting to feel like this block is coming to close and with it, the newness of medical school.
A year ago when we first started the anatomy component of the program, I was pretty apprehensive. I’d never studied anatomy before and soon discovered that many of my classmates had. I’d also never been so close to anyone who’d died before and the only times I’d dissected anything in biology class was years ago.
While I certainly gained a lot of medical knowledge in the anatomy lab, I also learned a lot about the culture of medicine. My classmates are so diverse, both in experience and education, and it really shows in the anatomy lab. Each of them brings different strengths to our lab groups — courage to start dissecting, patience when we inevitably made mistakes. While I’d originally been intimidated by the fact that so many of my classmates had learned anatomy before and thought of this as a fairly routine class, I became grateful when they enthusiastically helped us to see the logic of what was before us.
From my cadaver, I learned about the profound level of trust our patients put in us. By donating their bodies to science, our cadavers gave us an amazing gift — the opportunity to learn about the human body to a level of detail that would never have been possible through diagrams and computer simulations alone. Just as people look unique on the outside, their insides are also variable and different from each other. This was the first of many patients who I will meet over the course of my education and who will teach me important lessons, much as our teachers do. And slowly, I began to walk the line between appreciating the humanity and realness of patients, while also learning medical facts from them.
A year later, a lot has changed. I’m much more confident with studying anatomy, spending time in the lab and working through assessments in a methodical way. Because our anatomy labs in Mississauga are open all day, every day just for us, I’m able to learn what I need to at my own pace.
By the time our neuroanatomy block rolled around, I thought I was done with surprises in the lab. But the brain is a whole new challenge and I found myself learning one more lesson from my cadaver — that no matter how far we’ve come, there are always new experiences to look forward to and learn from.