Cadaver as a first teacher: A module to learn the ethics and values of cadaveric dissection

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Journal of Taibah University Medical Sciences


Objectives: The undergraduate medical students must be made aware of the ethical and humanistic values of cadaveric dissection. This study therefore designed, implemented, and evaluated the impact of the module ‘Cadaver as a Teacher’ (CrAFT) that examines the ethical values of cadaveric dissection. Methods: This prospective, multimethod study involved 447 first-year undergraduate medical students who had participated in all three sessions of the CrAFT module. Activities included interactive lectures, individual assignments, and a poster-making competition. Students offered a silent tribute and wrote words of gratitude down on a tribute wall. They also expressed their thoughts in the form of essays, poems, and collages. These reflections were qualitatively analysed to generate themes. At the end of the module, an online quiz was conducted to assess the knowledge gained by the students. Their scores were correspondingly recorded and calculated. Results: The major themes identified were: cadaver as a teacher, acknowledgement and thanksgiving, bonding, and empathy. Out of all the test takers, 316 students (94.32%) scored more than a five out of ten. The students strongly felt that the module effectively sensitised them towards the ethical and humanitarian aspects of handling cadavers. Conclusions: The implementation of an educational module about cadavers is a novel approach towards sensitising medical students. The students believed that sensitising them early on would have helped them establish a practice grounded in professionalism, human values, and empathy.

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