Turns Out, Cadaver Lab Matters

It's not that I didn't already know how important our anatomy courses in the cadaver lab were, but last week it hit home -- again. During "Advance Treatment Strategies" on Thursday evening, Eric Baker, BS, MSOM, sketched a quick diagram on the whiteboard to illustrate his point about needling techniques. Here's my attempt at re-creating it -- don't laugh; I'm clearly not in a visual design program!

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Those are some thick needles. Ouch. Don't worry, general public, we aren't actually using thick blue needles shaped like arrows when we give you an acupuncture treatment in the clinic...not unless you made us really mad. Just kidding!

The point of this diagram was to show how some points, in some conditions, should be needled at different depths according to your diagnosis and the treatment strategy at that time. Doing so brings out the desired energetic from that point's particular bag of tricks. As Mr. Baker said in class, points can do several different things, so it's up to the needler to bring out the most applicable function for that patient's condition. In other words, we don't stick the needles in three inches just to be mean; we only do it when you need it!

So, why did this make me think of the cadaver lab? Some students try to put the whole human dissection experiences out of mind forever. Some jump in and offer to be the TA for three years straight. Some of us just hang out in between those two extremes and focus on the value of what we had the privilege to do. Keep in mind that some of my experiences and those of my classmates were not so delightful, because we were the last class to go through the old cadaver lab -- when it still looked like something out of the 1922 original Frankenstein book. Nowadays, incoming students miss out on the nightmare material, and they instead get to skip straight to 2050, which is about how futuristic our new cadaver lab seems!

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NUHS Anatomy Lab Before Renovations

No matter the year, if you have the privilege of working in the NUHS cadaver lab, consider yourself head and shoulders above the rest. Whether pushing past old dripping metal carts or pointing to one of the 12 new 42" monitors overhead, Dr. Yihyun Kwon was sure to show you the physicality of needling an acupuncture point to various depths. He's reminding you about not going too deep and accidentally hitting the median nerve under PC6 as he closes up the clamshell table and washes his hands at one of the foot-pedal operated stainless steel sinks. (No, this is not a paid advertisement. The new lab is just that awesome.)

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NUHS Anatomy Lab After Renovations

What's the point? The point is that you have tosee the acupoint, inside and out, in order to best understand how to needle it. Yes, the lab can make many students squeamish, but I wouldn't trade those stinky Wednesday nights back in 2012 for anything. I just hope that your experiences in the lab will stick with you, future students, even though you'll be missing out on some of the moreolfactoryelements due to the new state-of-the-art ventilation system!