Excitement of Medical School
As soon as the excitement of being accepted to medical school wore off, the dread of entering the anatomy laboratory began in earnest.
“How could I be a doctor if I could not learn anatomy on a cadaver?”
Self-doubts were confirmed the first day of dissections. I almost quit: how could I be a doctor if I could not learn anatomy on a cadaver?
My Cadaver’s Human Journey
But I returned the next day and the next completing a full year of anatomy and dissections. What started as dread slowly turned into fascination and awe as the mysteries of my cadaver’s human journey revealed themselves to me. I remember wondering about who this elderly woman had been; what stories she could tell of her life and that I wish I had known her.
A Physician’s Reflection
Now 30 years later as I reflect on my time as a physician, I realize that my experience in the anatomy lab prepared my mind but also my heart for the journey ahead in medicine. My profound sense of gratitude to this unknown yet fully known patient has perpetuated throughout my career…I am honored and humbled to have been so intimately entrusted to “care” for her just as I am with all of my patients who put their faith and their confidence in me every day.
Alexandra Wolanskyj M.D.
Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science
Consultant, Division of Hematology, Department of Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic