Anatomy Lab

Don’t Get Carried Away

Exactly how much anatomy do you need to know and how much time should you spend in gross lab? Opinions vary. Some people love lab and eat it up (figuratively speaking) maintaining that there is no way to learn anatomy other than to spend hundreds of hours elbow deep in a cadaver. These are the folks who come in on the weekends to poke around a little for that one little nerve that they can’t seem to find.

Others spend the least amount of time in lab required by decorum and school policy.

How much anatomy do you need to know?

A lot, no question about it. I’m not convinced, however, that gross lab is the place to do it.

While you need to go to lab and poke around a little to get the feel for things, it is much more efficient to get a Rohan’s Photographic Atlas and use this as your non-smelly, non-gooey, portable anatomy lab.

Understand that most schools test you on gross anatomy by holding what is called a “practical.” In this test, you circulate around the lab from tank to tank (as if in some unholy buffet ) and are given a certain amount of time at each cadaver to identify a tagged item. The tagged item is usually well dissected and does not require any digging on your part.

Since there are usually anywhere from twenty to fifty cadavers in the lab (depending on the size of your class) most of the tagged items will be on cadavers with which you are unfamiliar. With this being the case, you might as well use a photographic atlas which usually shows structures unambiguously dissected in several views from which you generalize to any cadaver, not just the one that you have butchered.

The Rohan’s atlas has the legend on the side or under the photograph with numbered leaders to the structures. It is practically tailor made for quizzing yourself.

You will find that most of your lab time is spent dissecting rather than learning. By this I mean that you will spend hours picking through what looks like leftover thanksgiving turkey looking for an obscure nerve or blood vessel which you could have identified in your photographic atlas in three different views in thirty seconds.

I’m not saying that you don’t need to study anatomy, only that you need to do it efficiently.

4 thoughts on “Anatomy Lab

  1. Hey Panda Bear. I was just cruising through your old posts, as I have completed my first year of medical school and I actually have the time. Your point regarding learning anatomy efficiently makes total sense, but I want to emphasize that it’s important for everybody to get in there during the official lab time and painstakingly scrape a little fascia. Many a time, I’ve seen long-lost tankmates come scurrying in like jackels after we did all the work, and they end up with the high marks because they had all the time to thumb through Rohens. Is it a case of sour grapes? You bet. I could have done the same thing, but I could not allow myself to be the kind of person who takes advantage of other people’s hard work for my own personal gain. It’s about teamwork, time management, and a little bit of sacrifice. If it means staying up late to make time for looking at MY Rohen, then so be it.

  2. I didn’t actually ever go to lab after I decided it was a waste of time. I didn’t even know who my tank partners were in second year (we had a systems based curriculum) and only went to lab for the practical.

  3. Yes, I actually never show up to lab anymore, I find it a waste of time. I get very frustrated while digging for structures w/o knowing what they are, so I just study at home, and then to go look at the cadavers after wards, if at all. All items tagged during exams are going to be identifiable, they aren’t going to tag any butchered muscled that nobody can tell apart. I’m much happier since then.

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