TGIF has become my theme for fall semester! I always look forward to Fridays, not because it’s the start of the weekend but because of the interesting labs that are held. During the fall semester during the first year of the program, Fridays consist of PAC I, which is when we learn how to do a complete physical exam, and Anatomy lab. Lucky for me I have PAC I in the morning which means I don’t have to arrive at school until 8:30 am. After PAC, I usually grab lunch while going over the Anatomy Lab Protocol. It is very important that I know every detail of this lab protocol. We have a quiz during the first 15 minutes of lab that covers material from lecture that week as well as the outline of what you will be dissecting in lab.
Around 12:50 or so the shuttle pulls up at DPAP and I along with the rest of the afternoon lab hop aboard so that we can head to lab which is housed on the hospital’s campus. All the way to lab all I can hear is my classmates quizzing each other or stating random facts about the lab protocol. Amongst all the chatter I’m still attempting to study the protocol on a PDF that I’ve now downloaded on my iPhone. Once we make it to lab, most of us like to wait until the last second to enter the lab because we are still trying to cram for the lab quiz!
Once in the lab I am immediately handed a clip board, pencil and my quiz. The quizzes are usually quite interesting and a good way to make sure I’m constantly studying the anatomy material. After the quiz is over then it is time for dissection.
This was actually my first experience with human gross anatomy and I must admit it took some getting used to. As you walk into lab the first thing you notice are the sealed blue body bags on the stainless steel tables. And beneath each table are large containers that are used to retain the dissected parts that become separated from the cadaver over the course of the semester. Our dissection group recognized the careful skill that is required to dissect carrying out the day’s task all the while being careful to preserve nerves and vessels for future labs. There is always a sharing amongst our dissection groups of anatomical variations or post- surgical findings such as cardiac by-pass grafts, implanted pacemakers or organ removal. The end of lab involves a thorough cleanup process along with preparing our cadaver for the following week.
Nothing about this experience is “normal” compared to my past educational experiences, yet it has become my routine every Friday. Although there is not a lot of time to process or reflect on what I am actually doing, there are always more structures to identify and more unique anatomical findings to see. I realize what a gift and sacrifice that the donors and their loved ones have made in order to further our education.