Anatomy Lab

Anatomy Lab

A student writes about Anatomy Lab

When I think of a team environment, the first thing that comes to my mind is Anatomy Lab.  All of a sudden you are thrown in with 4 or 5 other students that you have barely met. It is a huge adjustment, and it is a perfect example of what people outside the medical profession simply do not see or do or understand….The bonds I formed with my anatomy group are some of the closest friendships I have had in medical school.  Our strong ties were formed instantly.  It didn’t matter if we had to go through the same thing 8 times just so one person could finally understand it on the 9th try.

There were certainly days when all we wanted to do was leave the lab, but we always stayed for each other or took a break and came back later to make sure everyone learned the material.

For most of us, Anatomy lab was the first glimpse of mortality.  One of my friends became teary-eyed as we dissected the fingertips of our cadaver.  This seemed very personal and invasive to her, and I think it was then that she realized how significant what we were doing really was.  I was glad to be there to listen and give her a much needed hug.

The learning environment was incredible.  You couldn’t go a second without seeing either a TA or a professor, and they were all constantly willing to help.  They would sit down and explain the same things over and over again, and it was completely okay to say “I don’t get it.” There was never any hint of “you should know this.”  I didn’t get a 100% on every oral quiz, but I learned the material, and I never felt rushed or pressured or embarrassed.

Anatomy Lab taught me how absolutely essential it is to make connections with others.  I don’t think we are meant to go through life alone.  I just don’t think that’s what human beings are built for.  It is so easy to get wrapped up in being afraid of what you don’t know or worrying about making mistakes or having the wrong answers.  In anatomy lab you realize that you are not alone and that you are not the only one who doesn’t get something or who needs something explained over and over again.  You also realize what you are good at, and you learn to lean on your strengths.  One of my group members worked very diligently and produced excellent dissections that could have appeared in a textbook while another group member and I hacked away at important structures and basically tried to create nerves and vessels.  We learned to let him complete the intricate dissections on one side of the body, so that we would all have something to study from, while the rest of us tried our best to find structures on the other side.  I learned that I was a pretty good teacher.

Sometimes our personalities clashed, but when push came to shove, we were a team.  Medicine is not a solo profession.  You work with people over and over again, and the ultimate goal is to help someone else.