A change in paradigm: Giving back identity to donors in the anatomy laboratory


  • Ernest F. Talarico Jr.

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine-Northwest, Gary, Indiana
    • Associate Director of Medical Education, Associate Professor of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine-Northwest, Dunes Medical Professional Building, Room 3028A, 3400 Broadway, Gary, IN 46408-1197, USA
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This article describes a paradigm of teaching in the anatomy laboratory where students interact with the families of the deceased persons whom they are dissecting. This approach focuses learning anatomy and medicine on the patient via the implementation of five guiding principles: the First Patient; Knowledge; Reflection and Reflective Practice; Treating the Total Patient; and Professionalism. Physician training typically begins with cadaveric dissection (i.e., dissection of the first patient), and therefore the medical school gross anatomy course provides an ideal environment for multifaceted educational experiences where cadaveric dissection is used to teach structure and function as well as the skills and competencies critical to patient care. Here, these principles are described, and the impact on student doctors and outcomes discussed. The results suggest that mastery of basic science knowledge and competencies, including professionalism, compassion, and leadership skill is enhanced by this protocol. Clin. Anat. 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.