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Lessons from the Gross Anatomy Lab

The gross anatomy lab.
Mitch Eaton, NPR
The gross anatomy lab.

Gross anatomy students at the University of Maryland Medical School are nearing final exams, and as they unwrap their cadavers on one of the last days in the lab, it's clear that a lot of work has been done this semester. Legs and arms have been dissected down to the bone. Internal organs are gone. And as NPR's Melissa Block discovers in the second of a series about the end of life and the gift of teaching, the students themselves have changed.

"We're definitely a lot more comfortable with the body," student George Kochman says. "We've had to flip the body and move the body and stick [our] hands in various cavities."

Most of the students share this confidence, working far less tentatively than they did on the first day. They've learned a great deal from the cadavers, and they say they've owed it to the donors to make the most of their time in the lab.

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As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.