Posted by: sayamika, the killer bunny | 2007 March 22

Anatomy for Surgeons

I was asked by a commentor (Hi Alice, thanks for the comment. We just have different views on that one, possibly to wrangle over another time.) to elaborate on the anatomy course we have at my university.

The reason you have not heard of this course in the states is because it’s not on any curriculum. It’s not required today, though back in the dark ages when they developed it, it was an integral part of the “surgical stream.” The concept of a surgical stream has gone by the wayside, however, as medical students are quite often loath to choose their specialty before they get to see what’s out there. My own penchant for surgery didn’t really develop until very late in my clerkship, during my surgery rotation which was next-to-last.

The director of the course is a dedicated gentleman who travels from Ottawa, where he lives, to Montreal each year for six weeks, expressly to teach budding surgeons the anatomy they will need.

Six cadavers are put aside from those donated to the gross anatomy lab. Thirty students spend six weeks doing Grant’s dissector, getting to know the body very intimately. There are four tutors who wander in and out, answering questions, suggesting other dissections for people with a particular interest, ortho or urology or whatever.

We have an hour and a half at lunch during which time we present seminars on anatomical topics, like the anatomy of writing, or the anatomy of the temporal bone, or cross-sectional anatomy of the abdomen: things with clinical relevance and a clear anatomic basis.

We stop our dissections at 4pm, at which time, and I don’t know how he does it, our professor finds surgeons to come and present some topic within their specialty. I suspect he was also their teacher at one point, because they all show up, more or less on time. Unheard of, for surgeons.

It’s a brilliant course. It has been running for 30 years, and I hope it continues to run.

Because it’s hardly fun to learn the anatomy intraoperatively, is it?

If you can’t get back into the gross lab, this is a great site for gross anatomy.

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