No longer pumping the fluid of life to the vital organs of its owner, this human heart has been cut out for the purpose of scientific and medical learning from someone with a heart of gold.
In my undergraduate anatomy course I took for granted the skill with which our human cadavers were dissected. Now in medical school we are responsible for learning the anatomical structures by careful use of the scapula and scissors. To preserve important structures and improve the overall appearance takes patience, effort and a careful hand.
This week we were responsible for opening the thoracic cavity. What may seem like a brutal task actually provided numerous learning opportunities. We explored the lungs in the pleural cavity and the heart in its minute detail. After removing the outer protective layer, the chambers of the heart were opened to reveal how a muscle so small could allow mankind to live.
It is a rather awe inspiring task to hold and clean the heart of another individual who likely has children, grandchildren and other family members. They laughed, cried, worked, served and struggled with the stress of life just as we do today. On top of it all they had a desire to donate their bodies to medical science for the purpose of educating medical students. Teaching others long after their hearts have stopped beating. I could never have imagined I would be in this position when I was younger.
There is so much yet to be learned as we deconstruct each part of the body to gain a working knowledge of its importance. Many resources are available for learning and identifying the thousands of structures. Lever soap only scratched the surface when they used the slogan "for all your 2000 body parts." The following is a list of helpful tools when trying to commit the body to memory:
- Flash Cards - Popular Netter Flash Cards make studying anatomy more portable
- Cadaver Anatomy - Learn and be quizzed with photographs from real dissections
- Mnemonics - Make life a little simpler with medical mnemonics
- Gray's Anatomy - Historically one of the best sources
- Anatomical Models - Three dimensional models can tell more than a picture
Living in the world's capital of entertainment, I find it hard to get away from the tourist traps occasionally. Las Vegas has a large array of events, shows, and activities available for all crowds and personalities. When it comes to inexpensive shows that deliver, you have to look a little harder. Craigslist is a great place to look when student loans are looming more than ever.
We were able to obtain tickets to a celebration in honor of Giacomo Puccini. For those who may not know, he was a writer of Opera over one hundred years ago. It was nice to leave the scrubs at home, dress up a little, sit back and admire the talent of classical opera. Although Italian is not my forte despite my heritage, the performance still fulfilled a need for something other than textbook culture.