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Stanford University School of Medicine

A day of firsts for Stanford Medicine’s new medical students

Imagine the first day of anatomy class as medical student. Your scrubs are crisp and clean. You are nervous, excited, maybe a little impatient. And then you get to meet your cadaver.

Stanford writer Tracie White had the opportunity to sit in on this special moment last week, and she describes the experience in a story for Inside Stanford Medicine:

The first day in the anatomy lab begins with a moment of silence in honor of the donated bodies lying hidden inside plastic, blue bags on shiny, clean, metal tables in front of the new class of medical students.

Then the bags are unzipped.

The new medical students — all 93 of them — will be dissecting the cadavers over the next seven months. And they have, as you can imagine, a host of strong emotions about the experience:

'I have mixed feelings,' said Victor Contreras, a student from San Diego, the morning before the lab. 'I’m obviously very excited. At the same time, I’m kind of nervous. This is a human person. This is someone’s loved one. I’ll basically be cutting them up.'

'I’m looking forward to it simulating a relationship with real patients,' said medical student Maria Interrante, who attended Stanford as an undergraduate. 'We will be introduced to the cadaver as a person. I think it’s one of the most important parts of medical school.'

When the class concludes in March, the students will hold a ceremony to honor their cadavers and will have the opportunity to write thank-you notes to family members, although they will never learn their cadavers' identities.

"We treat our cadavers as we would treat our patients: with respect and care," said Sakti Srivastava, MD, chief of clinical anatomy.

Previously: Stanford Medicine's white coat and stethoscope ceremony, in pictures and Stanford's senior associate dean of medical education talks admissions, career paths
Photo by Rod Searcey

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