I was browsing the now famous mini-lecture website, TED.com, when a certain video caught my eye. The presenter began by naming the various pitfalls of anatomy dissection such as its high cost and noxious chemicals. He whirled through a short demonstration using his brand new Automage Table, a 3D touch screen rendering of the human form. In his virtual dissection, he quickly and effortlessly revealed various organs and vessels. He isolated the circulation system, then just the heart floating in space. Zooming in, he displayed the four chambers of the heart in perfect three-dimensional clarity. He showed every view I could imagine, except for the best one: the real one.
Technology carries the future of medicine, and that excites me. However, technology can never replace one of the most fundamental experiences of a physician. Even as a mere first year medical student, I am confident that dissecting a cadaver will remain one of the most poignant moments of my career. Learning anatomy from a computer would truly turn medical students into computers themselves.