How to Survive Cadaver Lab

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One of the rites of passage for any medical student is going through anatomy lab, which can include studying cadavers. While dissecting a human cadaver for the first time might be exhilarating for some, it can be a real challenge for others. When approached with the right frame of mind, dissecting a human cadaver can be an extremely instructive experience.

Things You'll Need

  • Anatomy atlas
  • Know what dissection you will be performing before you go to cadaver lab. Preparation is very important. It's easy to waste 20 or 30 minutes trying to figure out which dissection is scheduled. Cadaver lab sessions often are packed with multiple dissection exercises. Consider reviewing your dissection manual as well as an anatomy atlas before going to cadaver lab.

  • Eat before you start dissecting. Even though that sounds a little morbid, dissecting on an empty stomach can spell disaster in the dissecting lab. Because of the fumes from the fixative, it is quite easy to become nauseated on an empty stomach while in cadaver lab.

  • Begin your cadaver lab session quickly upon entering the lab. Starting quickly will give you a sense of purpose, helping you overcome fears of doing a cadaver dissection.

  • Share the cadaver dissection work with your lab partners. Many medical students work in groups of four or five. Your lab partners probably will have strengths in areas where you have weaknesses, and vice versa. You also won't get as tired as quickly doing work on your cadaver.

  • Spray your cadaver with moistening solution before leaving cadaver lab. In a lot of cases, you will be using the same cadaver for weeks or even months. Preservation solutions can dry out cadavers if they aren't adequately moistened and sealed before leaving.

  • Review the dissections you performed in cadaver lab on a regular basis. You can do this by looking at a human anatomy atlas or practicing directly with the cadaver.

References

  • Photo Credit Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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