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May 2014

Full Circle

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle

Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(5):663-664. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.181

My daughter met her cadaver yesterday. She has begun her own journey of “things that you need to know to be a physician.” Many are taught explicitly, and so many more are implicit. I am in the high desert writing, walking, breathing, recovering from some of these same lessons.

She is surprised that the woman whose body she will begin to slice open tomorrow is of my age and build. When I asked about her cadaver she said, “she’s younger than I expected, a little older than you.” She has already noticed the sharp smell of preservative and the slimy residue on the gloves—part of the price paid for this deeper knowledge. Deep although she has not even broken through the epidermis. Already the urban legends circulate among her classmates. The laboratory is so cold that she wears fleece leggings under her scrubs.

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