The purpose of medical schools is to train students to care for patients; however, the temporal and conceptual gap between course work and patient care may induce students to undervalue preclinical course work, thereby decreasing learning and retention. Bringing clinical context into preclinical courses reduces this problem, and many preclinical programs incorporate “cameo” appearances of clinical material. In contrast, the authors describe a comprehensive program at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine that uses the cadaver as the students’ first patient to embed clinical context within preclinical anatomy.
As the students’ first patient, cadavers undergo modified physical exams, whole-body computed tomography scans, and pathology sample analysis. Students log daily dissection observations onto a “patient chart.” Group findings are integrated, on a self-directed basis, into a final grand rounds–style presentation (“Cadaver Rounds”) requiring students to synthesize longitudinally collected observations into a plausible clinical condition likely experienced by the cadaver-patient when alive. The entire exercise uses few additional contact hours (about six) and runs concurrently with the existing medical curriculum.
According to course surveys used to assess students’ perceptions of the relevance and effectiveness of Cadaver Rounds (2015–2017), the students’ experience was highly positive. Participation by faculty and clinicians has been enthusiastic.
The authors hope both to identify additional authentic clinical tasks to import into the dissection lab and to partner with other programs to adopt and evaluate this clinically centered approach to anatomy.
M.A. Meredith is professor and director of medical gross anatomy, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, Virginia; ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8081-6901.
H.R. Clemo is associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, Virginia; ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2682-0667.
M.J. McGinn is associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, Virginia.
S.A. Santen is professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, Virginia; ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8327-8002.
S.R. DiGiovanni is assistant dean and professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, Virginia.
Funding/Support: None reported.
Other disclosures: None reported.
Ethical approval: The institutional review board at Virginia Commonwealth University approved the use of student evaluations as described in this report (#HM20009398).
Supplemental digital content for this article is available at http://links.lww.com/ACADMED/A649.
Correspondence should be addressed to M. Alex Meredith, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, VCU School of Medicine, 1101 E. Marshall St., Sanger Hall Room 12-067, Richmond, VA 23298-0709; telephone: (804) 828-9533; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.