2. Becoming a devil


Every Korean med school, which is comprised of 2 years of premedical study followed by 4 years of the standard medical curriculum, has the tradition of having the 4th year students teach osteology to 3rd year students. Usually, this osteology session takes place during vacation. In my school, osteology is taught for a week, and anatomy labs and bones are provided to the students.


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The 4th year students teach the 3rd year students in a strict manner. The 3rd year students stay up all night memorizing the terms. If they memorize the bones during vacation, it would be much easier to do dissections when the semester begins. They will also get used to the way of studying in med school before they start their 3rd year. Even the modest 4th year students become devils during an osteology session. A year gap between 4th and 3rd year students in med school is enormous. Even a 4th year student with the worst grades can discipline a 3rd year student with the best grades while teaching osteology.


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What do the 4th year students earn from teaching? They get the chance to get along with their junior counterpart. The 3rd year students feel uneasy while they are being taught, but they later feel thankful to their senior counterpart when the sessions are over. This is an ideal junior-senior relationship. When the 3rd year students become 4th year students, they will be teaching osteology to the new 3rd year students, thinking, "I will make them go through what I had to endure last year. It is time to become a devil myself."

Medical students, regardless of their graduation years, are likely to work together in the affiliated hospital in the future. Even after resident course, they will probably see each other in the field as job partners. Therefore, it is important to form and maintain a good relationship with fellow students while in school, including those who are in different years.

Once the semester starts, the bonds among students become stronger in anatomy labs. Since detailed dissection of cadaver requires both physical and mental labor, students must take care of each other. To memorize numerous anatomical structures, students take turns pointing at different parts of the cadaver and have discussions. A student may become a personal tutor for another student having trouble understanding certain things. The formation of such bond is inevitable as they spend so much time with each other.

Let's say you went to climb a mountain with a friend. While resting in the valley, you might become mischievous and pull a prank on him, which might lead to a fight. But once you reach the top together, a special bond is formed between you and your friend, and you two become closer friends. Likewise, med school students become closer by enduring through tough times together.

Anatomy instructors like me contribute much to the bonding of students. I never say nice things to the students; instead, I always yell at them. "If a student misses an important structure, the cadaver is wasted. Therefore, they must be disciplined. There is no time for complements." I am the public enemy among students. The students insult me when I'm not around, but even that helps them become closer friends. Bonding with others is easier when there is a universal enemy.




Med school students take the Hippocrates's oath when they graduate. The oath goes, "I will think of my colleagues as my brothers." Doctors work together to treat patients. A surgeon cannot perform surgery without the assistance from anesthesiologist, radiologist, and lab technicians. If doctors help each other as if they are brothers and sisters, both doctors and patients will benefit. Such bonding among colleagues and students in different years takes place in anatomy labs.




The relationship between students in anatomy labs isn't always pleasant. Sometimes there may be an argument between students. For example, a conflict can arise if a student makes a mistake during dissection which can lead to a fight. However, such conflict would quickly be subdued since the student performing the dissection would have a scalpel in his or her hand. Thanks to the scalpel, students would learn to respect each other, which is necessary later on when they become doctors. Thus, an anatomy lab full of scalpels may be a good place to learn to respect others.