What Is This All About?

At my medical school, there is hallway of composites with former graduates. Sanjay Gupta, Ben Carson, and Jack Kevorkian are immortalized on the wall as twenty-somethings joining the ranks of physicians before them. The transformation from student to doctor is nothing short of an anthropologic rite of passage: we are selected and separated into a medical class, face liminal tests of knowledge and character, and emerge as MDs.

One of the first rituals that medical students face is anatomy lab. Although all students walk on these coals, most will leave with vast knowledge of clinical structure and little reflection on their donor’s journey. When training to save people from death, it is hard to confront the deceased. I experienced most of my course in this way, until I began to wonder about the person on the table in front of me. I started to learn more about the history of anatomical specimens in education, the ethics of donation, and the ways students react to death.

Through this curiosity, I am beginning a more formal project on the ethics of anatomical donation. This blog is a way to hopefully organize snippets of information and thought that relate to my project, as well as a medium to share other interesting things.