So when I was researching OT blogs, I was mainly looking for program specific things, like what a typical day of classes is like, how things are structured, and most of all; what is the anatomy cadaver lab like?? I really didn’t find too many helpful blogs that explained what to really be prepared for on the first day of cadaver lab.
I’m the type of person that likes to know exactly what I’m walking into, and be prepared. I just wanted to know as many specifics as possible, since I was genuinely concerned for that lab portion of anatomy. I had never been around a dead body, even at funerals; so I was super nervous.
I’m writing this post in hopes that someone eventually will come across it with the same concerns I had, and feel somewhat less anxious after reading!
So, we (thankfully) didn’t start our cadaver lab on the first day of anatomy- we went to the lab about 4 weeks later. This was only due to the PT students, who had seniority in the lab (the ot department only got access to it last year) still had classes up until then. I had NO problem having to wait!
The first day we had our lecture, lunch break, then went into the classroom to do a quick power point presentation before we walked over to the Medical School building where the cadaver lab is. We all walk over to the building and everyone is really nervous, but I think that I was the most nervous, and I was totally freaking out! At one point I actually thought I was going to faint, before we even went inside!
So, we finally are about to walk through these double doors into the lab, and I am hyperventilating and so nervous. Once we finally get inside, there were at least 20 metal tables off to the side with body bags on them. None of us were prepared for that! The smell wasn’t so overpowering which was nice, but it was definitely noticeable!
As we walk more into the lab, past those metal tables, the rest of the room has about 10 more tables, with the cadavers on them, open, and showing different structures. I did not want to get close whatsoever, so I kept some distance, and the professor was extremely understanding of anyone who needed a minute. As things progressed, I got by with the smell being somewhat potent by covering my nose with my lab coat!
Once we rotated around a few different structures, we called it a wrap and washed our hands and left!
I walked into the lab feeling extremely uncomfortable, and fearing I would be the one to faint. I walked out feeling like a real graduate student, confidant that I knew what I was talking about while identifying structures, and feeling much more at ease about being in the lab in general.
We have gone in every class since then, and it still is a little strange, and the smell still sucks haha, but it is MUCH easier to tolerate. All in all, I wouldn’t say it’s a horrible experience, because I definitely have learned a lot more than I had expected. It’s definitely humbling being in there, but also a little strange!
Our last class, we went over to the other side of the lab where there are some organs in containers, and we looked over the brain and spinal cord. That was truly incredible, and I think my favorite part, so far.
I hope at some point somebody reads this post, and it helps someone out! I was looking for specifics before my program started, so I hope this can help ease someone’s fears (if any) about cadaver lab.
If you read this, thanks!