Qualitative Analysis Reveals Complex Patterns of Medical Student Experiences in the First Dissection

John T. Fortunato, Mark H. Hankin, Jason Adam Wasserman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This qualitative analysis assessed the emotional response and sense of ethical obligation among medical students after their first experience with human dissection in medical school. While a limited number of studies have been conducted on this topic, most used survey techniques that require quantification of complex concepts like anxiety, excitement, and fear. Alternatively, this project qualitatively analyzed video-recorded responses of medical students prompted to reflect on both their initial impressions when entering the cadaver lab and their ethical responsibilities to their cadavers. With respect to the former, the results illustrate different patterns of experienced anxiety that would be obscured in a traditional quantitative design. With respect to the latter, conceptualization of ethical responsibility among first-year students underscores a nascent stage of professionalism and sense of ethical duty, highlighting the developmental needs of recently matriculated students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-365
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Cadaver dissection
  • Emotional response
  • Gross anatomy education
  • Medical education
  • Qualitative methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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