• professionalism;
  • medical students;
  • anatomy;
  • basic sciences


This article presents results from a longitudinal study following a cohort of medical students. Semistructured interviews are conducted every year, in which the students tell about their experiences learning medicine, their daily life, and their social activities in relation to university. The aim of the study is to analyze how medical students develop their professional competencies, values, and attitudes. This article focuses on the medical student's professional development in relation to the process of studying and learning anatomy. We analyze interviews conducted while the students are in their third and fifth semester. Anatomy plays a significant role in the medical student's educational process, on both a cognitive and emotional level. It seems that students in learning the subject matter adapt to fundamental values in the medical profession and are thus transformed into real medical students, sharing a unique experience. The implications for curricular development and professionalism are discussed, and this article argues that the issue of professionalism must be addressed in the educational process in the preclinical years and in relation to the basic sciences. Anat Sci Ed 2008. © 2008 American Association of Anatomists.