Five Things You Really Ought to Know Before Starting Gross Anatomy

abdomen

Thoughts of medical school and gross anatomy inherently go hand in hand. Not surprisingly, the idea of dissecting another human being breeds a lot of anxiety for the incoming medical student.  I am sure there are a billion whimsically written posts on the internet titled “my first day in gross anatomy” and “the great gift of giving a cadaver”. This site isn’t about that, it is about giving you the information you need to succeed. Let’s do it!

1. Cutting into dead people is weird… but you’ll get over it

As my lab partners and I stood around our body pondering what the hell we had gotten ourselves into it became time to make the first cut. It’s an odd feeling when you begin to dissect a human. You know what really got to me though? How quickly we became desensitized to what we were doing. Within days we were slicing away and chatting in up without second thought. Mind you, we always kept it respectful but it is also important to remember that these people willingly gave their bodies to us to learn with. Dive in and do your best not to get creeped out, that’s what everyone (including the cadaver) is there for!

2. It will have very little bearing on the rest of your career

surgeon gross anatomy

Let’s face it, most docs don’t need an intimate understanding of anatomy to do their jobs well. When is the last time you think an internist needed to know the exact course of the internal pudenal artery? Gross anatomy, like most of medical school, is full of BS minutia that has little bearing on everyday practice. Even as a budding surgeon I only use a scant amount of what we learned in gross anatomy. So what’s the point? The best I can come up with is if you learn the minutia then the basics will seem easy. But really, I don’t see the point. History? To make medical students shudder? I think I feel a post coming on why most of the medical school curriculum is ridiculous coming up…

3. Your atlas is your friend

I did shitty on my first several anatomy quizzes. Then I learned the secret to performing well on anatomy. Go in, get the dissection done to make your professors happy and then go study somewhere else. Trying to study from our actual dissections was an exercise in futility.

Where is the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve?

Oh, Hulk Hands Henry ripped that out, he thought it was a piece of fat.

The best advice I can give is to learn what things SHOULD look like from an atlas like Rohen’s Color Atlas of Anatomy: A Photographic Study of the Human Body. This book is the shit. It provides detailed photographs of beautifully pro-sected* cadavers allowing you to actually LEARN the anatomy. THEN studying your own dissections becomes much easier. Once I adapted this technique my anatomy grades skyrocketed!

 4. Doing poorly is not the end of your medical school career

There is a huge emphasis placed on gross anatomy by medical schools and medical students. Inevitably you or one of your close friends will struggle through. Understandably this causes more than a bit of anxiety.

Oh no Survivor! If I could barely pass anatomy how ever will I succeed in the rest of medical school? I am destined to become a primary care provider in central North Dakota!

Look, it surely isn’t a good thing to struggle through this course but it is not the end of the world either. There is a lot going against you. You are a brand new medical student adjusting to all that is med school and you have likely never done anything remotely like this before. Relax, take a chill pill, have a beer. Once you get into your groove and into the typical chew and spew med school classes you will be fine!

5. Just because you didn’t LOVE gross anatomy doesn’t mean you can’t become a surgeon

Case in point, this guy! I didn’t hate gross anatomy but I didn’t love it either. For me, hours of tediously picking through fat on a slowly drying cadaver really isn’t my cup of tea. It also is nothing like actual surgery. If your local general surgeon is beginning his cholecystectomies by first removing the skin from the entire body, please call the police!

Gross anatomy is a right of passage that we all must endure but it doesn’t have to be the behemoth that people make it out to be. This post probably didn’t answer all of your questions about gross anatomy but I wanted to hit some of the areas that aren’t talked about as often. If you have further questions please ask them below.

*Pro-sected just means that someone who actually knows what the fuck they are doing dissected the cadaver, some medical schools and many other professional schools actually hire people to do this. This is a better option in my opinion, it saves the medical student valuable time and the dissections actually come out appearing as they should.


Comments

Five Things You Really Ought to Know Before Starting Gross Anatomy — 65 Comments

  1. Thanks for keeping it real, Survivor. I read somewhere that it’s good to wear two gloves or else your hands are going to smell like formaldehyde all day.

    • Double gloving is a matter of preference. I don’t think many people in my class did. You really A) don’t notice a smell as long as you wash your hands thoroughly and B) get used to any slight smell there may be. Two pairs of standard exam gloves like you use in gross are going to make your hands sweaty and really bulky. Now in the OR I would suggest you all double glove, these gloves are nice and thin and you can do so comfortably.

  2. How important is Anatomy to medical school and my future as a physician? Extremely!
    Do most physicians do physical exams? Do most physicians look at CXRs? Do most physicians look at MRIs, and CTs at some point? Is that point of maximal impulse displaced? My patient complains of pain in the right lower quadrant, what was down there again? What do you mean I shouldn’t do a lumbar puncture, who cares about uncal herniation? (You can’t make a fist? Wait I will get a real physician who can tell us the nerve that is involved! Has anyone seen Dr. Google?)
    Don’t think about anatomy as just an obstacle in your way to completing your first year of medical school! Think of anatomy as a major tool in your tool box. This tool is so critical and can save you hours of frustration when you are trying to palpate this or review a film on that. If you are ignorant to the use of this tool, it will always just seem as though it is an obstacle.
    The base of a pyramid is always the most important part. The stronger the base, the easier it is to build successive layers. As you go through your medical carrier keep referring back to the strong base as something to build layers upon!

    Anatomy, in todays education is not simply dissection

  3. Anatomy is great, but an embalmed cadaver isn’t a very good way to learn it, in my opinion. I’m a liver and kidney transplant surgeon, now about 30 years out from medical school. This is a field with probably more exposure to detailed abdominal (and to some extent thoracic) anatomy than any other surgical discipline. I see two main problems with traditional cadaver-oriented med school gross anatomy:

    1. Living tissue looks *nothing* like embalmed tissue. I remember trying to find some obscure subcutaneous nerves at the start of my anatomy class, and thinking “no way, these guys are just making this shit up”. When I first scrubbed on major surgery for the first time, I was floored at the extraordinary level of detail that is readily visible.
    2. As a new med student, you really don’t know anything about how the body works in health or disease, so the whole thing becomes an exercise in brute force memorization. It is about as interesting as memorizing a page from a telephone directory, and is forgotten almost immediately.

    So really, even though you will transiently learn a huge amount of minutiae as a med student, all that really matters (beyond getting adequate grades) is that you really reliably know all the basics. If you become a surgical specialist, the time you learn all the details you actually need will be over the course of your residency.

  4. ^_^ I’m a first year medical student in Malaysia. We’ve started learning about nerves, our course started approximately a month ago. Just now in the morning, it was the first time we studied a cadaver. I didn’t believe it was a real one. Eventually, yeah it was true.. I am happy about my new experience which led me to some common questions about cadaver,, And I came across this website along the others opened in other tabs. thank you for the information doctor. You Just added to my knowledge. Have a great life. :) Regards, Gaayathri

  5. What a cocky & flippant write-up, speaking more about the brash and irreverant p.o.v. of this individual. A bit crass, too. Form your own opinion, folks.

  6. I loved up to you will obtain performed right here. The sketch is attractive, your authored material stylish. however, you command get got an edginess over that you want be handing over the following. in poor health undoubtedly come further earlier again as precisely the similar just about a lot frequently inside of case you protect this increase.

  7. There are terrific developments on the layout of your website, I honestly love that. My site is about where to watch movies online and right now there are plenty of stuff to do, I am yet still a starter in website creation. Take good care!

  8. There are awesome improvements on the structure of this webpage, I certainly enjoy it! My website is regarding certified income and now there are lots of stuff to do, I am currently a beginner in website design. Cheers!

  9. I just want to mention I’m all new to weblog and truly liked you’re blog site. More than likely I’m planning to bookmark your website . You amazingly come with amazing article content. Many thanks for sharing with us your web-site.

  10. Great paintings! That is the type of info that are meant to be shared around the net. Disgrace on the search engines for no longer positioning this submit upper! Come on over and consult with my web site . Thank you =)

  11. I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here. The sketch is tasteful, your authored subject matter stylish. nonetheless, you command get bought an impatience over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again since exactly the same nearly very often inside case you shield this increase.

  12. howdy and we appreciate the information you have – I had surely picked up new things here. I did nonetheless experience a few practical issues use of this site, simply because I experienced to reload the web site lots of conditions earlier than I may just get it to load properly. I have been considering if your web hosting service is OK? Not that I am complaining, and yet gradual loading instances will very frequently effect your ranking in google and may also damage your high quality rating when promoting with Adwords. However I am adding this RSS to my e-mail and may watch out for a greater portion of your adequate appealing article content. Be sure you update this over again at once..

  13. I personally arrived over here from some other website related to jailbreak your iphone and considered I should check out this page. I quite like what I see so I am just following you. Getting excited about looking over your blog back again.

  14. You could certainly see your expertise within the work you write. The arena hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to say how they believe. All the time follow your heart. “A second wife is hateful to the children of the first a viper is not more hateful.” by Euripides.

  15. Hello my loved one! I wish to say that this post is awesome, great written and include approximately all vital infos. I’d like to look extra posts like this.

  16. I do believe all the ideas you have offered in your post. They’re really convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too brief for starters. May just you please lengthen them a little from next time? Thank you for the post.

  17. certainly like your web-site however you have to check the spelling on several of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very troublesome to inform the reality nevertheless I will surely come again again.

  18. Great – I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your web site. I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs as well as related information ended up being truly simple to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it at all. Quite unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, site theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Excellent task.

  19. This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your magnificent post. Also, I have shared your site in my social networks!

  20. I certainly like your site and find many of the blog posts to be exactly I’m looking for. Would you offer guest writers to post information for you? I would not mind writing a post regarding nrmjobs or maybe on some of the topics you’re posting about on this page. Again, awesome page!

  21. My wife and i were now more than happy when Peter could conclude his reports from your precious recommendations he came across using your web page. It’s not at all simplistic to simply find yourself giving for free key points other people might have been selling. And now we realize we’ve got the blog owner to give thanks to because of that. All of the explanations you made, the straightforward website navigation, the relationships you can give support to foster – it is everything astonishing, and it’s aiding our son in addition to the family do think the theme is interesting, and that is wonderfully fundamental. Many thanks for all!

  22. I really enjoy reading through on this site, it has superb articles . “I have a new philosophy. I’m only going to dread one day at a time.” by Charles M. Schulz.

  23. Simply wanna remark on few general things, The website pattern is perfect, the articles is very superb. “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.” by Barry LePatner.

  24. Hello my loved one! I wish to say that this post is awesome, great written and come with approximately all significant infos. I would like to peer more posts like this.

  25. I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one these days..

  26. Whats up very nice web site!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your site and take the feeds also…I’m satisfied to seek out so many helpful info right here in the post, we need work out more strategies in this regard, thank you for sharing.

  27. I like the valuable info you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and check again here regularly. I am quite certain I will learn plenty of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *