Preclinical

Amal Cheema Amal Cheema (4 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Geisel School of Medicine


Amal is a writer and medical student at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, class of 2024. She graduated from Wellesley College with a Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry and political science in 2017. Prior to medical school, she pursued a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and a post-baccalaureate in biomedical ethics. Outside of class, you can usually find her writing, reading, baking, or adventuring in the outdoors.




Catching Threads at the End of Preclinical

I hope my classmates, communities, and I all dance far more often with health than sickness. I pray that soon the last hospital bed holds the last patient with COVID. I hope justice and truth prevail. I hope we hold onto what we carry: the love of friends and family, a resilience tried and true, bravery unbridled and faith that we will persevere among the challenges life affords. I hope that after long days of caring for others, we care for ourselves and call a friend, a loved one, a therapist — and remember how far we’ve come. We have been patients, and we will be patients, even as we care for patients.

Reflections on M1, Part 1: A Curriculum Like No Other

On July 27, 2020, I began the first day of orientation week at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG). After over four years of living in Atlanta, the initial 25-minute drive from home to school threw me back to my high school days of having to wake up at six o’clock in the morning. The entire first week was a bit of a blur, and I do not remember much aside from getting my stethoscope and helping draft a class oath.

A Meditation on the Anatomy Lab

This feeling of loss and subsequent reflection revealed to me something fundamental about how I experience time in my own life. As I depart the anatomy lab, I stand on the shores of time’s river and gaze into the clear water’s surface. In it, I see a reflection of growth and of internal transformation — a reflection not of who I was but of who I have become. I emerge not only learned in anatomy but also with insight into the impact that individuals can have on one another.

Anatomic illustration of superficial facial/neck muscles and an interpretation of cadaveric donor

Reflections on Donor 8

On the first day of anatomy, we were reminded that this course was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and that we were privileged to be experiencing it. For those of us first-year medical students who might not pursue surgery nor experience physically interacting with and entering the human body again outside of surgical clerkships, the professors said this would be an intense time. We would peer into the spaces and structures that — on some level — make up every human being. 

Dissecting Anatomy Lab: Epilogue

I no longer feel alone the way that I did the first few weeks of dissections, because now I recognize that my peers were sectioned off at their tables also worried that they were losing their sensitivity, that they weren’t good enough to belong, and they didn’t know how to cut into a person. I wish that I had known what my classmates were thinking and feeling during the anatomy course.

Dissecting Anatomy Lab: The Final Disposition

Why would someone choose to donate their body to medical education? We have a dishonorable history in medicine of illicitly sourcing cadavers for dissection: robbing corpses from graves, murdering people for their bodies and salvaging the unclaimed dead from city hospitals and morgues. Today, we call the bodies we learn from “donors” instead of “cadavers” to honor their autonomy and personhood, their choice to be in the room. 

Dissecting Anatomy Lab: The Lifecycle of Anatomy Instruction

It is the day before the first anatomy lab for the first-year medical students, and a single professor walks alone, up and down rows of tables laden with 26 naked, embalmed bodies. He silently shares a few minutes with the donors, a private thank-you. Soon the donors will be covered in white sheets, and the students will tentatively spill through the locked wooden doors of the labs, a rush of anticipation, teamwork, questions and learning.

Dissecting Anatomy Lab: The Assembly of a Medical Student

In the golden glow of a fall day, 104 first-year medical students parade out of the medical center carrying boxes of bones to aide our anatomy lab studies. The crates look suspiciously like instrument cases, perhaps the size of an alto saxophone, and it feels absurd to march back to our houses a la The Music Man, knowing all the while that we are bringing real live (well, dead) human skeletons into our living rooms, kitchens and coat closets.

Dissecting Anatomy Lab: Introduction

Over the next four weeks, I will share a series of essays with you in which I tell some of those stories. This writing results from the work of a summer, supported by a summer research fellowship in Medical Humanities & Bioethics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, in which I interviewed nine first-year medical students, two third-year medical students, eight anatomy and medical humanities professors, two Anatomical Gift Program staff, three palliative care clinicians, two preregistered donors and one donor’s family member.

Virtual Doctors-in-Training: A Medical Student’s Perspective on Returning Back to “Normal”

We have seen our classmates’ faces, memorized each other’s hometowns and politely chuckled at every “fun fact” introduction despite having heard it countless times. Some of us have admitted to writing down random facts about others as we hear them, hoping to review them later and somehow kindle more profound relationships than the pandemic naturally allows. We virtually contact each other later with a random sentiment trying to relate to someone’s favorite sports team or vacation place.

Mallory Evans (5 Posts)

Columnist

Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine


Mallory Evans is a third-year medical student at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in Rochester, Michigan. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science degree in cellular and molecular biology and a minor in German. When not studying, you can find her running many miles on woodland trails, perfecting a black bean burger recipe, or saying answers to Jeopardy! out loud at the TV. One day she hopes to pursue a career in internal medicine and pediatrics and travel to at least one place on every continent.

This is Water

This is Water is an attempt at documenting intentional living. This column will strive to highlight the extraordinary meaning of the often unnoticed, and to greet the hard and joyful parts of the medical school experience with gratitude (even when, especially when, we don't feel like it).