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Anatomy Lab

Our Foundational Anatomy Course Flips the Script

The foundational anatomy lab course for all first-year medical students at UC San Diego School of Medicine has transformed over the last two years to include explicit humanistic and compassionate skill-building practices to give students long-lasting skills to grow into empathic, caring providers. Anatomy lab is a difficult experience for many reasons including: the potential first experience with a deceased person’s body, overwhelming emotions related to dying and end-of-life issues and anxiety about performing dissection practices.

Traditionally many anatomy courses promote anonymity for the deceased, detached regard for the “human cadaver” and mastery of basic science knowledge. Our anatomy course, Compassionatomy, flips that script.

We promote engagement with the body donor (not cadaver or specimen) as the first patient. We encourage awareness and acknowledgement of the difficult emotions that arise, gratitude for the donor, curiosity and awe for the learning experience, and development of empathy and compassion for self and others in a supportive learning community.


Body Donation Program

UC San Diego School of Medicine is proud of our dignified and professional Body Donation Program.