"Cadaver conference day": A psychiatrist in the gross anatomy course

Gary J. Kennedy, Todd R. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Numerous medical schools in the United States and abroad have determined that anatomy taught through cadaver dissection is untenable. Concerns for cost effectiveness, educational efficacy, the shortage of trained anatomist teachers, the increasing demand for cadavers, and pressure to convert dissection rooms to research laboratories, all argue for minimizing or eliminating cadaver dissection. However, arguments against dissection tend to ignore the emotional growth students experience in the process. Cadaver dissection prepares them for one of the core dilemmas of patient care, namely, the need to be personally engaged yet clinically detached. This dilemma, traditionally encountered with the first incision in the dissection lab, will persist throughout professional life, and it must be addressed in order to provide humanistic care with scientific objectivity. What follows is one perspective on how to shape students' self-awareness in the first weeks of dissection. The premise is simply that examination of the cadaver provides the student a unique opportunity to examine the self.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-30
Number of pages5
JournalPrimary Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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