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LISTEN: Podcast explores lasting impact anatomical donors have on medical students

Soon after arriving on campus each fall, first-year medical students at UMass Medical School meet their first patients—the anatomical donors who have given their bodies to science. Lela Giannaris, PhD, assistant professor of radiology, directs anatomical learning for first-year medical schools, and joined a new Voices of UMassMed podcast to share insights about the emotions surrounding the invaluable experience of mastering anatomy by dissecting a human body.

“I don’t know if even the donors themselves realize the impact of their gift, and how valuable that is in the training of our medical students,” Dr. Giannaris said.

It’s in the anatomy lab at UMMS where medical students will join their first team. Twenty-seven teams made up of six students each are assigned to each anatomical donor. They will spend countless hours together examining every detail of the human body.

“I think in some ways the first day is the hardest because you don’t know what you’re walking into,” said Ryan Barrett, a third-year medical student. “It is kind of a daunting task—you know you’re going to do a dissection of every system in the human body and you can’t really comprehend that. Not until after the fact, until the end of the five-month course, do you realize what you can achieve.”

Amanda Collins, MPH, instructor of radiology and director of the Anatomical Gift Program, answers questions people commonly ask when contemplating donating their bodies for medical science.

Listen to all Voices of UMassMed podcasts at:

Learn more about the Anatomical Gift Program at: