Dissection room lessons

To draw students back to the campus after the coronavirus period, the lecturers of the Faculty of Health’s Nursing programme organised in-depth and instructive activities for their students. One of these activities was dissection room classes for first-year students. Adam Rhoudjami and Jessica Soewa took part.

“Seeing those bodies makes you realise how vulnerable we are”

Jessica Soewa, first-year Nursing student

Jessica Soewa

After the tour, the students and their academic advisers headed for the dissection rooms where they were welcomed by third-year Nursing students. Jessica was surprised when she saw the bodies. “I had a very different idea of what a dead body looks like. I think that’s because of what I have seen on television and in movies, where a corpse is often played by a living actor. That looks very different from an actual dead body, in which all the muscles are limp and much of the body fluid has disappeared.”

Prepared cadavers

So it took some getting used to, especially the smell of formaldehyde. “The cadavers are prepared so they remain usable for a long time; the oldest one has been there for ten years. But that formaldehyde, it really stinks,” says Adam. One of the cadavers was open from the sternum down, with all the organs clearly visible. The students were free to take out the organs to have a closer look at them, and ask the nursing students any questions they had.


Jessica found it incredibly interesting, but also confronting. “Seeing those bodies makes you realise just how vulnerable we are.” Adam felt the same. “It was special to see bodies and body parts in this way. So realistic. I now understand, for example, how a fairly harmless bicycle accident can cause considerable damage.”

Unique experience

Dealing with illness and death is part of a nurse’s job. Jessica wonders how she can learn to deal with that. “You have to be able to cope with it all. I sometimes think: what have I got myself into? I hope there’s attention for that later on in the programme.” She has nothing but appreciation for the dissection room lesson. “It was a fantastic experience. The AUAS gave us a unique opportunity to get acquainted with this aspect of healthcare.”

Published by  Communication 22 August 2022