Dissection: A positive experience

McGarvey, M. A., Farrell, T., Conroy, R. M., Kandiah, S. and Monkhouse, W. S. (2001) Dissection: A positive experience. Clinical Anatomy, 14 (3). pp. 227-230. ISSN 08973806 (ISSN)


First-year medical students were surveyed by questionnaire to assess levels of stress and physical symptoms resulting from their experience of the anatomy room. There was a 100% response rate from the 188 students. Most students (95%) found the prospect of their first visit to the anatomy room exciting. A small number initially experienced physical symptoms, but these had improved significantly 10 weeks later. Most students suffered very little or no stress (80%) on their first visit with only 2% of respondents rating their stress levels as high. Ten weeks later, 87% experienced little or no stress with only 1% stating that they had high stress levels. The anatomy room was rated to be less stressful than workload and assessments. Students reported that the anatomy room provoked thoughts of mortality, and 27% suggested that there should be more preparation before the first visit to the anatomy room. Our findings support previous studies suggesting that American/Canadian students in particular find anatomy stressful. However, the wisdom of interpreting adverse reactions as symptomatic of post-traumatic stress disorder is questioned. This study shows the anatomy room to be a positive learning experience for the students of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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