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Clin Anat. 2004 May;17(4):328-33.

Help of third-year medical students decreases first-year medical students' negative psychological reactions on the first day of gross anatomy dissection.

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Department of Anatomy, Mayo Clinic/Mayo Medical School, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.


The assistance of third-year medical students (MS3) may be an easy, inexpensive, educational method to decrease physical and emotional stress among first-year medical students (MS1) on the first day of gross anatomy dissection. In the academic years 2000-2001 and 2001-2002, a questionnaire on the emotional and physical reactions on the first day of dissection was distributed to 84 MS1 at Mayo Medical School (Rochester, MN); 74 (88%) responded. Student perceptions were assessed on a 5-point Likert scale. The 42 second-year medical students (MS2) whose first academic year was 1999-2000 were used as a control group, because they had not had assistance from MS3. MS2 completed the same questionnaire (59% response rate). Data were collected from MS1 on the day of their first gross anatomy dissection. The most frequent reactions were headache, disgust, grief or sadness, and feeling light-headed. Significant differences (alpha < 0.05) were found with use of the chi(2) test to compare the emotional and physical reactions of MS1 and MS2. MS1 had significantly fewer physical reactions (64% vs. 88%), reporting lower levels of anxiety (23% vs. 48%), headache (14% vs. 36%), disgust (9% vs. 20%), feeling light-headed (11% vs. 24%), and reaction to the smell of the cadaver and laboratory (8% vs. 52%). MS1 commented that having MS3 at the dissection table was extremely helpful. They relied less on their peers and felt they learned more efficiently about the dissection techniques and anatomical structures. Using MS3 as assistants is one method to reduce fear and anxiety on the first day of gross anatomy dissection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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