There are several reasons why human cadaver training is considered the gold standard in medical education. Learning is solidified by hands-on experience. Nomenclature and discussion are necessary, but there is nothing that can replace hands-on learning, especially for surgeons and healthcare professionals using medical techniques and devices. The cadaver lab is an active learning environment in which learning comes full-circle. Every human body is different. This is intellectually understood, but there also needs to be an experiential teaching that allows medical personnel the opportunity to observe human tissue “up-close and personal.” Humans may share basic anatomy, but the appearance and responsiveness of that differs from one to another. The more familiar physicians are with the nuances of human tissue, the better their clinical practice can be. First-hand encounters with disease are vital to patient care. Cadaver training affords us the ability to observe a wide variety of pathology, such as tumor formations, in addition to normal anatomy.
Students of human cadaver labs often express that one of the most compelling take-aways of training is the appreciation they gained for donations to the medical community. Regardless of innovation in virtual reality, sentiments from students confirm that the future of healthcare relies on a comprehensive understanding of the human body in true form.
Where do you get your cadavers?
Med Ed Labs cadaver training facilities rely on donations only from tissue vendors that have been accredited by American Association of Tissue Banks. The AATB is a non-profit scientific and educational organization that has been operational since 1976. It was established by the same scientists and physicians who founded the United States Navy Tissue Bank, the first in our nation, in 1949. This association is one of only a handful of such organizations in the U.S. Furthermore, the Standards for Tissue Banking published by the AATB are recognized on a global scale as the definitive guide for tissue banking. Their Standards are the only privately-published in the United States and are the most detailed and comprehensive of all tissue banking standards published worldwide.
What aspects make for the best cadavers for medical training?
All cadaver models have educational merit because they allow observation of anatomical structure. However, fresh human cadaver tissue is ideal due to the realistic experience it provides. Fresh human tissue has not been preserved, and therefore has not become inflexible or damaged. When tissue is not preserved, there is a better opportunity to encounter the nuances that may occur during a live surgical or medical procedure. Our clients’ needs are important to us, which is why we have a team that is dedicated to the procurement of the best cadaver specimen available. We are able to achieve this through the professional relationships we have established with accredited tissue banks.
What are some alternatives to using cadavers?
In recent years, the educational environment has subtly shifted away from the use of human cadaver tissue and toward alternative teaching methods such as textbooks, video presentations, and, most recently, virtual reality software. Anthropologist Chris Ruff, Ph.D. has been the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution for more than thirty years. He describes the reason for cadaver training as such: “It’s to learn something that you’re going to use all the time . . . Even if people did almost as well on written tests by reading a book and looking at a computer, I don’t think they’d be as good doctors without this experience.”