The MBBS/MGHD Class of 2025 visits the University of Rwanda in Huye for cadaveric dissection.

After an almost 7-hour trip that was broken up with a stop at Meze Fresh
for lunch, we reached the Huye Campus of the University of Rwanda (UR).
After a brief orientation by the UGHE faculty, we all settled into our
different accommodations and later met for dinner. The next day, after
breakfast, we were introduced to the UR faculty and staff members that we
would be working with. We were both surprised and excited to know that
we were the inaugural group of first-year undergraduate medical students
who would be performing dissection (proper). We were also told that we
would have someone available to us if we needed any psychosocial

We were given a background on how cadavers were procured, especially
since there is not a huge “donating your body to science” culture, and how
protective and ethical measures were implemented in order to respect the
human body. In addition to gaining consent from the Rwanda Biomedical
Center (RBC) and all other governing bodies, the cadavers’ heads were
wrapped to keep anonymity and privacy. The head covering also helped us
(the students) feel less anxious about making incisions and reflecting the
skin (new terms that were quickly added to our lexicon). It was a mixture
of feelings; we knew this was a person, yet with their face covered and the
inability to look into their eyes, the experience of cutting them open felt a
bit removed.

After we got over the initial shock, with the help of UGHE and UR faculty,
we got to work; making incisions, reflecting the skin, removing facia and
fat, examining muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. We went deeper into the
human body, appreciating more the 3-D location and complexity of the
different body organs. We held a heart in our hand, we looked over, under,
and sideways at a lung, and we even felt a uterus (it was so tiny). We even
noticed that the large intestines were not actually larger than the small
intestines. This type of dissection, with a cadaver, was complementary to
the digital dissection we were getting accustomed to in the Sim Lab. It put
the body into perspective, but it also took 2 days in the lab for us to see
what we could see in less than an hour on the Anatomage Table.

Latissimus Dorsimus, Serratus Ventralis Thoracis, Anterior Superior Iliac
Spine, and more names that sound strange; these were some of the
anatomical terms that were being thrown around. Though not by much,
there were some discrepancies in the material we had covered, and what
we were facing on the dissection table, which was amplified by the fact
that the UR faculty were used to having more advanced students who
appreciated the more complex terminologies.

All in all, we appreciated both the UGHE and UR faculty members, whose
expertise was visible in how they introduced us to new skills, how they
answered a lot of our questions and dealt with long hours in the lab,
and how they approached teaching a younger and more inexperienced
group of medical students. We are appreciative that we were able to
connect the in-class and online materials that are mostly 2-D, to what a
real body looks like. This exposure reminded us of the fact that we will be
entrusted with “life” as doctors and that we need to handle it with the
utmost care and respect. How else to conclude such an adventure but with the Steeplechase Exam (or as some of our predecessors call it, “stupid-
chase”) that evaluated what we had covered in those two days in true UGHE “assessment drives learning” fashion.