Human cadaver training has provided meaningful service to medical students for many years. The approach to educating new physicians, as well as those with many years under their belts, may have changed over time thanks to new technologies, but this does not diminish the value of the occasional cadaver lab. Here, we discuss the reasons that cadaver training continues to be the gold standard and why this may never change.
- Hands-on experience is vital to good medicine. Yes, discussion and nomenclature are necessary. However, practicing medicine requires touch. It requires knowledge of the variations in human anatomy from one person to another. This is especially vital for surgeons and is also necessary for those developing or using medical devices. Cadaver labs coupled with lecture brings learning full-circle.
- No two bodies are the same. Of course, every medical student and physician knows this. But sometimes it is forgotten in the day to day realities of medical practice. Cadaver labs remind medical professionals that every body looks different and responds differently to medical therapies and that these nuances must be considered to accomplish the best patient outcomes.
- Cadavers put clinicians face-to-face with a wide variety of pathologies in an educational setting. It isn’t enough to know the natural, normal anatomy of the body, medical providers must also know pathology and how it can look different in each patient.
- Appreciation for the human body. Interestingly, cadaver training has been said to increase medical students’ appreciation for donations made to science. Moreover, clinical practice utilizing cadavers reminds practitioners that the human body deserves respect and gentleness at all times, perhaps especially when dealing with disease. In this sense, cadavers can enhance compassionate care.
Where Cadavers Come From
Students understand that cadavers are donated for use in the medical community. Our cadavers are obtained from vendors with the American Association of Tissue Banks accreditation. This non-profit scientific and educational organization has been accepting and dispersing cadaver tissue for over four decades and was founded by professionals associated with the United States Navy Tissue Bank, which was established more than seventy years ago.
Our labs utilize fresh human cadaver tissue, which provides the most realistic experience. This tissue has not been preserved and is therefore undamaged and flexible. It provides access to the nuances that may be encountered during live medical or surgical procedures.