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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Dead Body of Knowledge

Christine Montross writes succinctly, beautifully and persuasively on how important it is for medical students to dissect a dead body even though they can see everything inside a body through medical technology:
Someday, they’ll need to keep their cool when a baby is lodged wrong in a mother’s birth canal; when a bone breaks through a patient’s skin; when someone’s face is burned beyond recognition. Doctors do have normal reactions to these situations; the composure that we strive to keep under stressful circumstances is not innate. It has to be learned. The discomfort of taking a blade to a dead man’s skin helps doctors-in-training figure out how to cope, without the risk of intruding on a live patient’s feelings — or worse, his health. We learn to heal the living by first dismantling the dead.

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