Closing Time

Very recently, we had our last day of anatomy. Anatomy class quickly grew to become a defining milestone in our medical education journeys. I still recall the first day in which we were assigned to our four-person groups as well as designated to larger “societies” that were named after former Yale medical professors. As the names flashed on the projector screen in front of us, I felt that we were part of a Harry Potter movie scene, with our names being put through a sorting hat as we anxiously awaited our assignments. When my name finally flashed, I rushed to find my new team mates and we headed up together to meet our donor.

As we walked in, our donors were laying supine on the tables we would be working on for the next several months. The body was completely enclosed in drapes and to the side was a list of the age and cause of death of all the donors in our society. Our donor was 94 years old when she died of a stroke. I was initially brimming with excitement as our first anatomy class drew closer and closer. However, at this moment, suddenly confronted with the body in front of me, I fumbled with words as I muttered that we should probably have a moment of silence before commencing our first lab.

 Particularly during our first sessions, we strived to treat each body part with as much consideration as possible. We took care to cautiously displace any portion of the body when conducting our lab procedures. I noticed my partner whisper “sorry” if he felt that he had handled the body too harshly to perform a maneuver. I myself endeavored to keep all body segments not immediately being addressed by our lab protocols covered by the drapes. It felt wrong to unnecessarily expose her lower limbs, for instance, when we were only going to be focusing on the thorax region that day. What was unspoken, however, was that keeping the drape over her face also helped preserve a sense of anonymity and detachment that helped us cope with prodding our fingers into the most intimate spaces of our donor’s body in the coming weeks.

Read full article originally published on Aspiring Docs Diaries

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