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First Cut: A Season in the Human Anatomy Lab
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First Cut: A Season in the Human Anatomy Lab

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  56 ratings  ·  9 reviews
With humor, compassion, and wisdom, Howard Carter recounts the semester he spent watching first-year medical students in a human anatomy lab. From the tentative early incisions of the back, the symbolic weight of extracting the heart, and by the end, the curious mappings of the brain, we embark on a path that is at once frightening, awesome, and finally redemptive.
Paperback, 308 pages
Published July 15th 1998 by Picador (first published October 1997)
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Oct 08, 2009 Kristin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People with an interest in medical school
I missed my opportunity to go to med school a few years ago, and while I am happy with the career I chose, I sometimes wonder 'what if?' I toured a medical school, and of course they showed off their human anatomy lab, a very fascinating sight for sure, as the students were hard at work with their cadaver dissection.
Compared to what I saw there, Carter captures the activities of the anatomy lab perfectly. It has the right balance of technical science terminology and layman explanations to accura
After taking an anatomy and physiology course in school, I found this book to help make concrete many of the body systems we covered. Unlike the students in the book we did not dissect human cadavers, actually I didn't dissect anything, having missed the one dissection, but as a CNA I have cared for newly deceased patients. He brought humanity and an awareness of what fresh medical students go through in their learning of the human body and its functions. He also brought the idea of what to do w ...more
Overall, I didn't enjoy this book at all. When I first picked up this First Cut, I thought it would be a great, interesting read that gave good insight into the medical field and how it feels to experience the human anatomy lab in medical school. However, I found myself unable to follow the narration many times throughout the book, and I felt that the author spent too much time analyzing things, and not enough time actually trying to understand what it's like to be a part of an anatomy lab. The ...more
Great. I've been yearning and searching for a book like this one ever since I saw the movie Gross Anatomy. Nothing gross about it -- more like miraculous, simply miraculous.
What I didn't like: a little too "wordy," in the manner of a novel.

I also did not like the abrupt changes in text presentation. We read along, the story is great and then turn the page to an illustration. The story is interrupted, in magazine-style, to describe the graphic.

This was an okay read, and only interesting because I am starting medical school next week. It is for a very specific audience. It's written from the viewpoint of an English professor who is interested in surveying the events in a first year medical student anatomy lab. I felt like he was trying to hard to make it poetic, but he did do a good job once in a while relaying some of the emotions that may be felt throughout cadaver dissections. There was a creepy moment when he seemed obsessed with t ...more
Amber Hanneken
At first I was a little apprehensive when starting this book. However, as I flew through all the chapters I began to enjoy it more. I am currently in the same shoes as the students he writes about. I find this story very relatable and has answered many of the questions and concerns that I have had myself about the bodies from the gross lab. This book opened my eyes and made me see them in a whole new light.
I picked up this book in my college library. At the time I was a athletic training student and taking several anatomy classes. These included a couple of brief hands on experiences with cadavers. I picked up the book to get a feel for what med student's go through.

The book painted a wonderfull picture of the dynamic between student's and those who donated their bodies to science.

I would recommend it to anyone in an anotomy related field or preparing for med school.
Mary Whisner
An English professor spends his sabbatical with first-year med students. Fascinating -- for the anatomy, for the look at a particular type of education, for the humanity.
Anatomy is cool.
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