In talking to Doctor Okorewa Mante, a practising MD, we learn a little about medical school practicals. Medical school is split into the pre-clinical years and the clinical years. Practicals during the pre-clinical years don’t involve patients, instead, students work on cadavers. It is during the clinical years that students begin to interact with patients.
These are the mummies. No, stop thinking of the things you’ve seen in the movies. They are mummies because Cadavers are preserved corpses. Through a specialised process in which embalming chemicals are applied, bodies can be preserved for years. These bodies are then used to teach medical students throughout their education.
According to Doctor Mante, the cadavers are actually not scary. The worst thing about them, she recalls, is their smell. Additionally, in KNUST, the building where they had their studies with cadavers also doubles as a mortuary. So that could be ominous at times. One of the problems students had with cadavers is that their parts didn’t appear exactly like what was in the textbooks. Students had access to specialized cadavers for each part of the anatomy that they wanted to study.
All in all, working with the cadavers is not a frightening experience, she says. However, that’s also because you’re in a group. She remembers the washroom from her days of practicals at the mortuary. It was very clean, but you had to go in there alone. And that was its own experience.