and facilitators’ comments from ‘Facing Dissection and Death:
enjoyed seeing the interpretations of anatomy lab that were shown in
the lecture. I almost wished, too, to see a picture or photo of the
face of a cadaver to prepare me for seeing the actual thing in the lab”.
“I found it
interesting to get the perspective of other students and helpful to
express my own opinions. I felt the timing was appropriate. I liked
the presentation on palliative care and found that it stirred my emotions.
Her philosophy on life and death was refreshing”.
feel this session was at all necessary; perhaps making it optional for
those who choose would be better”.
“On the whole,
I feel comfortable with the cadaver so I didn’t get too much from
the small group discussion. The palliative care presentation was a lot
more beneficial than the student observations”.
for this discussion. The additional presentation on dying wasn’t
supposed to be included but I found it very thought-provoking and recommend
including it in additional years”.
was extremely useful. The lecturer was magnificent. Thank you. I was
so glad Dr. Bertman had a chance to give the presentation on palliative
care. It really brought us back to thinking about the process of disease”.
“I was generally
impressed with the session. I wonder if in addition a session earlier
on in the year of just groups of students (w/o a leader) might stimulate
us to bring up some issues earlier. I very much appreciated this session,
though, especially the amphitheatre presentations”.
“I think it
is really helpful to know that I am not alone in some of my concerns
regarding dissection, it helps to hear other people voice their concerns.
This group was very beneficial for me. I also really enjoyed Dr. Bertman’s
two presentations – they stimulated lots of thought and emotion
“So far for
me, a lot of this has not been a problem emotionally; but thinking about
dissecting the face is a bit disquieting, so I think this session is
a good idea”.
session brought a little life back into the cadavers. Anatomy will be
less mechanical because of it”.
thought-out program. I enjoyed it and found it quite beneficial. Both
presentations by Dr. Bertman were very good”.
the acknowledgement that anatomy can be emotionally difficult. The 2nd
presentation was interesting; though I’m not sure it necessarily
should have been done during that session”.
from students and others – more suggested readings…”
“I wish that
our class was invited to submit poetry and drawings for the presentation”.
set of lecture slides were a little unexpected and quite emotional.
The difference before dissecting a dead person and coping with death
is huge, and I’m not sure I was completely ready for that”.
were very helpful in dealing with suppressed emotions”.
our small groups had trouble opening up at first, in the en it was really
by Dr. Bertman was excellent”.
“I think that
even smaller groups might have been more facilitative, but I did get
a lot out of it”.
“I think this
session is much needed and I’m really grateful that UMASS takes
the time to address these issues. My only suggestion is to invite families
of the cadavers to this presentation, so that they can see the compassion
we have for their loved one’s gift”.
about anatomy as an experience rather than a class. A separate talk
about that would be nice at the beginning of class in August”.
more sessions would be helpful”.
“For me, what
is most difficult is being confronted by the unexpected. (That is why
the pelvis was hard for me), but I saw this coming in August and this
session has also prepared me”?
presentation was also very moving and I thought it was an issue often
shunted to the side in our medical education”.
be very helpful if we were provided a list of questions to ponder, at
our leisure, before the presentation…this would help facilitate
discussion and provide order, which might help quieter individuals express
“I think it’s
interesting to hear what other people have to say, but I’m skeptical
of planned moments of profundity and think that most of this sort of
work is done on one’s own”.
“Much of this
is self guided. I loved hearing my peers apprehensions and thoughts”.
done beautifully…next time pass around some tissues”.
agreed this was appropriately timed in the curriculum.
comments about how difficult it was to incise the skin in any part of
the body. Applying a scalpel to facial skin will be particularly hard.
of body to spirit, soul. How does that affect the students’ approach
to dissection and to the concept of donation?
donors know what really goes on in this course, specifically regarding
hemi-section? Uniform apprehension about the process and the result.
This led to a discussion of desecration. Does the donor’s altruistic
action minimize the very negative connotation of desecration? Student
comments included “surreal, nauseating, wrong, unnatural, hard.”
student started to say how surprised he was that he was relatively unaffected
by what goes on in anatomy. I encouraged him to say more, and encouraged
the group to respond to his comments, but this went nowhere.
of how funeral homes make an effort to restore facial and hand skin
color to minimize the visible signs of death. Related question about
what happens to the fluid within the eyes?
group was evenly split about whether it should be composed of cadaver
table foursomes or more randomly created by alphabet. Some students
felt they had already processed a lot of the sensitive material in their
own groups informally, for instance.
of concerns about looking at face and hands and lots of discussion.
talked about these worries together (many tears) and how the groups
planned to deal with these concerns. Then, I suggested (actually asked)
if they’d find it helpful to go downstairs now, glove up, and
look at the face together. Somewhat to my amazement the groups talked
it over, and 10 minutes later almost everyone gathered on A-level where
they quietly “met” their cadavers face to face. More tear,
but I think also much comfort and support. I will try to follow up to
see whether in retrospect they agree this helped them. (Evals were completed
before we went downstairs). As a facilitator this was an amazing experience
– and I was honored to be part of it. This group of students was
the polar opposite of last year’s group – it’s amazing
how differently their discussions can go.
really appreciated amp (large group) presentation. I thought it was
a great idea to have students in audience reading!
vs. intellectual involvement vs. emotional styles of coping. How each
style can work under different circumstances.
couple of students found it difficult to discuss this in “the
abstract” and suggested offering a ‘debriefing’ opportunity
following head/neck dissection session.
beginning of course, identity of donor: 5 no change 10 first name 1
possessive, see old people – think about anatomy