Download PDFPDF
’Knowing everything and yet nothing about her’: medical students’ reflections on their experience of the dissection room
Compose Response

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Author Information
First or given name, e.g. 'Peter'.
Your last, or family, name, e.g. 'MacMoody'.
Your email address, e.g.
Your role and/or occupation, e.g. 'Orthopedic Surgeon'.
Your organization or institution (if applicable), e.g. 'Royal Free Hospital'.
Statement of Competing Interests


  • A rapid response is a moderated but not peer reviewed online response to a published article in a BMJ journal; it will not receive a DOI and will not be indexed unless it is also republished as a Letter, Correspondence or as other content. Find out more about rapid responses.
  • We intend to post all responses which are approved by the Editor, within 14 days (BMJ Journals) or 24 hours (The BMJ), however timeframes cannot be guaranteed. Responses must comply with our requirements and should contribute substantially to the topic, but it is at our absolute discretion whether we publish a response, and we reserve the right to edit or remove responses before and after publication and also republish some or all in other BMJ publications, including third party local editions in other countries and languages
  • Our requirements are stated in our rapid response terms and conditions and must be read. These include ensuring that: i) you do not include any illustrative content including tables and graphs, ii) you do not include any information that includes specifics about any patients,iii) you do not include any original data, unless it has already been published in a peer reviewed journal and you have included a reference, iv) your response is lawful, not defamatory, original and accurate, v) you declare any competing interests, vi) you understand that your name and other personal details set out in our rapid response terms and conditions will be published with any responses we publish and vii) you understand that once a response is published, we may continue to publish your response and/or edit or remove it in the future.
  • By submitting this rapid response you are agreeing to our terms and conditions for rapid responses and understand that your personal data will be processed in accordance with those terms and our privacy notice.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Vertical Tabs

Other responses

Jump to comment:

  • Published on:
    Would there be benefit in mandating writing tributes?
    • Laith Evans, Medical Student Norwich Medical School (UEA)

    Thank you to the authors for writing such an insightful article.

    In addition to the comfort offered to friends and family of donors’, the act of writing tributes enables reflection from students about their experiences and relationship with their cadaver, which is alluded to by the authors.

    I imagine for first year students this process is both cathartic and valuable in acquiring closure after forming such an intense and unparalleled relationship with their donor. At Norwich Medical School, where I am currently studying, anatomy dissections occur regularly throughout all five years of the course but with particularly focussed study occurring in the first and second years. I remember vividly the confusing emotions I would have after saying goodbye to each year’s donated body. A strange sense of sadness and loss, very similar to those of the Cambridge students but also gratitude towards the donor, I was proud of their decision to donate their body and pleased that one of their last wishes (to donate their body to medical education) had been fulfilled.

    The anatomy department at Norwich Medical School, similarly to Cambridge’s, encourages each of their dissection groups to write tributes to be read at a memorial service held each year, to which family and friends of the donors are invited, as well as a selection of students. Other members of my dissection group always took this mantle but I wonder if in hindsight group reflection and write-up would have...

    Show More
    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.