• anatomy;
  • medical education;
  • cadaver dissection;
  • professionalism


The central role that human dissection has long held in clinical education is being reevaluated in many institutions. Despite the impression that many institutions are abandoning dissection, very few have and most of those have reinstated dissection within a few years. What are the inherent qualities that lead institutions back to dissection? In our efforts to redesign a shortened dissection course, our consultations with a broad range of clinicians lead us to understand how the rhythms of clinical practice are modeled and developed in the small-group setting of the dissection laboratory. Following further consultation with colleagues who have experimented with different models of anatomy instruction, we discuss three themes in support of dissection. First, problem-solving in the dissection laboratory develops the habits-of-mind of clinical practice. Second, relating dissection to imaging modalities develops the spatial reasoning skills needed to understand computer simulations, interpret imaging data, and interact with surgeons, radiologists, and patients. Third, the human face of dissection fosters self-reflection and integration of the cognitive and affective skills required for medical practice. Through group process, the collaborative effort of dissection teams develops essential of attributes of clinical professionalism. Anat Rec (Part B: New Anat) 289B:215–218, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.