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To be completely honest, I was not the medical student waiting anxiously for the beginning of anatomy lab.  I knew it was a rite of passage that all medical students needed to pass through, but I really didn’t know what to expect.  After a month of anatomy lab, I am beginning to realize how incredibly helpful and essential this traditional part of all medical school curricula is.  Every time I go into lab though, I cannot help but wonder who my donor was, what they did for a living, what their family life was like, and countless other questions.

These thoughts were somewhat calmed last week at the Memorial Service for our donors.  Families and faculty, as well as medical, dental, and nursing students, came together to remember the men and women who chose to graciously donate themselves to science.  Students gave speeches and performed during the ceremony, and it was a really beautiful experience.  While listening to the speeches, something resonated with me: my donor is my first patient, and my first experience of receiving the trust of others as a medical professional.  The family of my donor has trusted me with their loved one, and has given me the chance to learn to help others.  The questions that have gone through my head through the past month are questions that a doctor may ask their patient, and I treat my donor with professionalism and respect.  My donor truly is my first patient.  I am not sure that I can ever return the gift of knowledge and trust that my donor and their family have given to me.  As I continue with class, I know I will learn more and more about anatomy, and I will do my best to return this gift through using this knowledge for a lifetime.  I speak for all students when I say thank you to all of the donors and their families.