First Lecture for Medical Students

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The first lecture for medical school freshmen was delivered by two speakers: Prof. Marian Simka, head of the Department of Anatomy of the Medical School, and Rev. Professor Piotr Morciniec, a bioethicist with the Faculty of Theology.

The lecture was mainly devoted to the history of anatomy and ethics.

- With the development of medicine, it became clear that without understanding the construction and function of human body, it would be impossible to understand disease processes and their treatment – said Prof. Simka. – That is why the anatomy became an extremely important element of the education of future doctors in the 16th century. The knowledge of anatomy allows valid physical examination and interpretation of  the results of diagnostics, especially picture diagnostics. I order to detect a patient's pathology one needs to know the anatomy of the body. Without the knowledge of anatomy no surgery would be possible. In turn, the knowledge of anatomical terminology allows one to describe medical phenomena and communicate with other medical professionals – argued Prof. Simka.

Next, Rev. Prof. Morciniec told students about the dark side of the history of medicine, i.e. about unethical use of human corpses in anatomy studies. He talked about the irrational fear of corpses and of opening corpses, which accompanied mankind for centuries. In the 13th century, when autopsies became more and more frequent, stealing bodies from cemeteries became also common. Even deliberate murders of the poor were not rare.- Executed criminals’ bodies were also used, and it was regarded as an additional penalty for them, - said Rev. Morciniec.

The speakers pointed out that similar practices were not just the domain of the ancient past. - In China today, bodies of executed criminals are still used for those purposes, – said Prof. Simka. - Also the research carried out in Nazi Germany was deeply unethical.

In Poland, the corpses used for scientific purposes come from unidentified persons, whose bodies no one has claimed, and from donors who left their bodies for science in their will. - However,  there are very few such cases, - said Prof. Simka.

Almost all students of the medical school attended their first lecture, which lasted two and a half hours.