Can medical students learn anatomy without a cadaver? The University of Hawaii may soon find out.

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the UH medical school to halt new cadaver donations, which are the basis for an education in anatomy received by the first year medical students who dissect them.

Bodies of donors who have already enrolled in the John A. Burns medical school’s Willed Body Program will still be accepted.

There are enough cadavers for anatomy classes to continue as usual for this year’s incoming class of medical students when they begin classes in September. But all other classroom cadaver use is on hold, including continuing medical education for allied health professionals.

In a press release, the medical school said the disruption to this “valuable,” hands-on anatomy education is due to a reduction in teaching programs.

Anatomy is a foundational course for training physicians, therapists and almost anyone else pursuing a medical career.

The UH Willed Body Program website reads: “Body donation plays a critical role in helping medical and health-related science students to master the complex anatomy of the human body and provides researchers with an essential tool for discoveries to help patients.”

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