The Philadelphia Inquirer on Monday looked at how U.S. medical schools - "under pressure to tighten budgets and add classes" - have begun to reduce class hours, use pre-dissected bodies for anatomy classes and use computer software as a supplement to cadaver dissection.
No medical schools have eliminated cadaver dissection, but at least one-third currently offer some form of computer software as a supplement in anatomy classes, according to American Association of Anatomists board member Richard Drake. A gross-anatomy class for 255 students costs at least $100,000 per semester - which includes about $1,000 for each of the 40 cadavers used, as well as related costs - according to Richard Schmidt, vice chair of the anatomy program at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.
Jefferson Medical College about four years ago began using a computer program that enables students to dissect a specific part of the body and take quizzes on what they have learned, the Inquirer reports. Also, Jefferson and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have added virtual anatomy programs with their usual cadaver classes, while Temple University School of Medicine and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine are considering virtual anatomy classes.
According to the Inquirer, "Part of the push to institute computer anatomy programs is simply a matter of time" - the dissection of the face takes three to six hours and the dissection of the pelvic triangle takes as long as one week - as medical schools have sought to add new classes on genetics and molecular biology. However, Schmidt said that medical schools should not entirely eliminate cadaver dissection (Fallik, Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/16).