Medical Students Recognize Their Autopsy Patient

Performing an autopsy for the first time is a rite of passage that, for most medical students, is a profoundly unfamiliar experience.

For a group of students at Sweden’s renowned Karolinska Institute, however, the occasion had an unexpected element of familiarity, when the corpse in front of them proved to be one of their former instructors, reports The Local, an online news site.

One student described being “super shocked” when he recognized the body, but none of the students apparently said anything as they began to work. According to the news site, “the mood was tense.”

Since then, questions have been raised as to whether the students should have been placed in such a situation. Birgitta Sundelin, the head of the department responsible for the course, offered no apology for the awkward circumstances.

“It is really terrible, but it is part of education sometimes,” she said. “Unfortunately they must deal with it.”

The president of Sweden’s Medical Students Association, Maria Ehlin Kolk, was less complacent.

“Students should not have to feel uneasy during their education,” she said. “The question is how much these students learned from the situation.” —Aisha Labi

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