The Semester in Stories: Anatomy

I finished my first semester of med school and it looks like they’re going to let me keep going. That’s good news.

I’ve been reflecting on the semester, trying to decide how best to describe med school. I recently finished reading Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. It’s a wonderful book about life and story. So I think the best way to paint a picture of med school is through stories. Here are a few about anatomy that stand out:

Anatomy lab is rough. You get into med school to try and heal people and the first thing you do is tear someone’s body apart.

I remember the first day of lab. The locker room was packed full of people changing into scrubs. There was palpable tension as we entered the lab. I had worked with a cadaver before, but even I was anxious. We gathered around our bodies exchanging nervous smiles. The professor made a short statement, then our school chaplain said a prayer, thanking the donors for this final gift and reminding us to be grateful.

We opened up the bags containing our bodies, snapped our scalpel blades into place and started cutting. It finally felt like med school had begun.

Our lab group became close throughout the semester. Spending hours together will help facilitate that. Two of the guys grew mustaches to raise money for cancer research and convinced the other three to grow mustaches as well. We have an epic picture with all of us in the lab, along with our anatomy professor whose mustache put us all to shame.

We spent countless hours in the lab going over bones, muscles, nerves and blood vessels. Patient TAs worked with us, quizzing us over and over again.

I remember the first practical exam. The energy was similar to the first day of class. We were nervous, unsure of ourselves. Will my mind go blank? Have I studied the wrong things? Will I get kicked out of med school? These are the questions that run through your head.

At the end I was exhilarated knowing how much I had actually retained. In a strange way it was fun to demonstrate what I had learned. All the doubts and uncertainties fade, at least until the next exam!

We had great professors throughout the course. Doing one enjoyable lecture the professor stuck a tube into his pants, called it “Nigel the Trouser Snake” and proceeded to demonstrate how the gut tube rotates during development. In another, the professor crawled under a white sheet to demonstrate how the uterus and ovaries are covered by peritoneum. You can see that here:Uterus and sheet

Those are just a few of the highlights from anatomy. Now I’m off to start second semester! If I get a chance I’ll post some more stories from the past term.

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