If you happened to pass Lubin Dining Hall one spring evening, you may have caught bits of poetry or golden-age jazz on the chilly air. In keeping with Einstein tradition for medical students completing the gross anatomy course, the class of 2016 and MSTP 2020 were celebrating the lives of the 40 individuals who had donated their bodies for the teaching of the first-year course.
Gross anatomy is often recognized as the first true rite of passage for medical students in their journey towards becoming physicians, because the process of dissection dramatically alters the students’ relationships to both their future field and their patients. As part of its commitment to humanism in medicine, the anatomy program at Einstein treats the donors as patients, asking the students to present their findings in the context of the donors’ lives. Each dissection team works closely with a single donor, piecing together that individual’s history and daily experiences over the course of their study.
Although the course is rigorous and stressful, when the time comes to take the final exams and leave the lab, it can be difficult for the students to say such an abrupt good-bye to these special individuals. The annual Convocation of Thanks is a student-organized event that brings students and course faculty together a final time to offer closure on their five months of intense and intimate study. In honoring their cadaver-patients, the students reaffirm their oath to promote humanism in medicine,while gaining perspective on their dissection experiences.
Following parting words and insights from course instructors, students representing the class shared their own reflections and gratitude through short speeches, poetry, music and art. The students also thanked their instructors for their tremendous commitment, in particular Dr. Naim Mussalli – who was unable to deliver the faculty address in person due to a heart attack suffered the week leading up to the event but still sent his words of advice and encouragement to be shared with the class.
As part of their thanks, the students will place a commemorative plaque on the Einstein grounds. They also created a memorial painting incorporating the names of the donors, students and faculty, which was presented as the class gift.
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