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Disrespecting the cadavers

Pre-Nursing   (5,484 Views | 20 Replies)
by Rohan Rohan Member

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So I know some people will joke about the cadavers because they are nervous, but a student today was way out of line. These people have offered up their bodies for us to learn from, not to be joked about.

One student was asking how old we thought the man was, the offender said "Old enough to have hairy balls!" and started laughing. I was so pissed! These cadavers deserve the utmost respect, not crude jokes. :angryfire She later apologized for being out of line, but I'm still angry. She only apologized when she saw how horrified most of us were.

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Elizabeth Hanes has 12 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Freelance Writer, 'the nurse who knows content'.

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It's funny you bring this up, because I was thinking about the same issue after my cadaver lab this morning.

We had nothing like the incident you describe happen, but I was noticing that people were handling the cadavers like they were ...I don't know, cheap toys or props. Basically, people were yanking on the limbs and pulling hard on the muscle tissue. One person grabbed a hold of one cadaver's toe and began pulling hard on it, saying, "Wow, talk about rigor mortis." (Our cadavers are nearly a year old, so, yes, they're very stiff.)

I felt it was very disrespectful. Not only could these people have damaged the cadavers, but they weren't treating them like human beings. I made it a point to say (gently), "Careful, let's not forget these are actual people." Some of the students openly gaped at me, like I'd lost my mind.

I agree with you, Rohan, that the cadavers deserve our respect. Each of those people was probably someone's parent and grandparent. They deserve better than to be the butt of jokes and rude handling.

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gwenith is a BSN, RN and specializes in ICU.

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Do not confuse "gallows humour" which is a COPING mechanism with disrespect for the dead.

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Rohan said:
So I know some people will joke about the cadavers because they are nervous, but a student today was way out of line. These people have offered up their bodies for us to learn from, not to be joked about.

One student was asking how old we thought the man was, the offender said "Old enough to have hairy balls!" and started laughing. I was so pissed! These cadavers deserve the utmost respect, not crude jokes. :angryfire She later apologized for being out of line, but I'm still angry. She only apologized when she saw how horrified most of us were.

You wished people were more sensitive....as long as this individual will show more respect towards her patients if she ever becomes a nurse in the first place. It happened to me that a healthcare professional said something insensitive about me behind my back and I heard it...not a nice feeling if you are in discomfort and pain. But I let them know that I heard what they said I guess I wasn't that drugged out that I couldn't fight back, thank god for that. Some think just because you are sick and drugged you are also stupid or something and take advantage of you because you are vulnerable. This is the time for homegirl to learn respect and how to treat others with dignity....the cadaver served that purpose today, lets hope ;)

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gwenith said:
Do not confuse "gallows humour" which is a COPING mechanism with disrespect for the dead.

I see your point ;)

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Marie_LPN, RN is a LPN, RN and specializes in 5 yrs OR, ASU Pre-Op 2 yr. ER.

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Hopefully that person will learn from this experience, and realize that kind of humor, dead or alive, is uncalled for.

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Multicollinearity has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Acute Care Psych, DNP Student.

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This reminds me of something that might sound unrelated, but in a way it's not. One day my biology instructor mentioned that roughly 1 in 2000 people are born intersexed - that is with ambigous and/or duplicate genitals for both sexes. Now this biology class is for allied health. I was shocked at some of the students' responses. Nervous laughter I can understand. Many are young. But statements like "damn, God don't make no freaks" and "I don't believe him" "freaks freaks freaks" etc.

I was shocked that future nurses, radiology techs, etc were speaking this way. Probably similar to how the OP felt with those being disrespectful with the cadavers. It went beyond gallows humor that helps people cope.

I wanted to say to them "It is only statistical chance that you yourself were not born this way. People that have this situation need your understanding and acceptance. Especially since as a healthcare provider they will be in your care, totally vulnerable. How would you feel. They aren't freaks. They are people like you and me." I wish the instructor would have said this, or something similar. He didn't even address all the idiotic statements flying in the room.

I know, it's hard to decide when to say something when fellow students are being inappropriate.

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multicollinarity said:
This reminds me of something that might sound unrelated, but in a way it's not. One day my biology instructor mentioned that roughly 1 in 2000 people are born intersexed - that is with ambigous and/or duplicate genitals for both sexes. Now this biology class is for allied health. I was shocked at some of the students' responses. Nervous laughter I can understand. Many are young. But statements like "damn, God don't make no freaks" and "I don't believe him" "freaks freaks freaks" etc.

I was shocked that future nurses, radiology techs, etc were speaking this way. Probably similar to how the OP felt with those being disrespectful with the cadavers. It went beyond gallows humor that helps people cope.

I wanted to say to them "It is only statistical chance that you yourself were not born this way. People that have this situation need your understanding and acceptance. Especially since as a healthcare provider they will be in your care, totally vulnerable. How would you feel. They aren't freaks. They are people like you and me." I wish the instructor would have said this, or something similar. He didn't even address all the idiotic statements flying in the room.

I know, it's hard to decide when to say something when fellow students are being inappropriate.

That is indeed sad :(

I think what i would do in a case like that, is email someone in the Dept or someone who could address such behavior with the students.

And actually your story, reminds me of a Discovery Channel show on those "hermaphrodite" people, one of those, a nurse, said that it was in class that she realized the "malformation" she had... so imagine, if someone like was in your class, not cool~~~~:nono:

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LanaBanana specializes in Level III cardiac/telemetry.

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zoprack said:

and actually your story, reminds me of a Discovery Channel show on those "hermaphrodite" people, one of those, a nurse, said that it was in class that she realized the "malformation" she had... so imagine, if someone like was in your class, not cool~~~~:nono:

Ooooo...I saw that show! Can you imagine! (I know this is offtopic - sorry!) I also saw one about an African soccer player who had grown up as a girl and was on a professional level team. Then as an adult had health problems and after x-rays and stuff found out he was a boy who had a vagina, but no other female "stuff". The soccer league made him stop playing on the womens team so he came to America to have the reassignment surgery and then he was accepted back in the league - on the MEN's team. I can't even imagine how devestating that condition would be!

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It sounds like she realizes her comment was innapropriate. She did apologize. I don't know what else she could do to remedy the situation. Nurses do need to be respectful of their patient, but being forgiving is a good thing too.

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Marie_LPN, RN is a LPN, RN and specializes in 5 yrs OR, ASU Pre-Op 2 yr. ER.

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Is the apology out of "gee, that really was mean of me" or "gee everyone's staring at me...."

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Multicollinearity has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Acute Care Psych, DNP Student.

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Marie_LPN said:
Is the apology out of "gee, that really was mean of me" or "gee everyone's staring at me...."

Although, perhaps exposing these folks to things that make them uncomfortable will eventually condition many to have a better response. Better they make these mistakes now in school and think about it than in real life with real patients. Then again, a few will just be insensitive jerks with RN licenses in a few years. Based upon some of the things I've witnessed, I so wish we had to have an interview to get into ADN programs. A few tha I have seen, can get an A in A&P but have no business dealing with vulnerable sick people IMO.:nono:

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