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cadavers in medical school

Cadavers may be the next ‘victim’ of technology.

Scientific American has a nice article on the future of cadavers in medical school education in their October 2019 issue. The article explains that this year a few US medical schools are teaching anatomy without the use of cadavers. Instead, students at these schools will learn anatomy with three-dimensional renderings from virtual reality. This software will be augmented with physical replicas of human organs as well as actual patient records such as ultrasound and CT scans.

Educators are hoping the new technology can help students better understand bodies that are not old and diseased (as most cadavers are) and have more accurate attributes for color and texture than embalmed cadavers. While this shift does not appear to have been orchestrated by the AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium. Nonetheless, it seems to have a lot of potential to positively impact medical education. For instance, it could be a huge cost savings for newer medical schools that won’t have to worry about cadaver handling. It also prevents any risk of accidental damage to a cadaver that can irreparably harm very small and/or fragile body parts.

However, it isn’t without drawbacks and this is where we want our prospective medical school students to carefully determine which educational style they would prefer. The drawbacks include students missing the emotional connection to an actual human body and observing the many natural variations between various patients. Finally, the article also mentions that the use of technology may cause students to lose perspective on the depth of the actual human body.

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