A physician’s education relies on the generosity of whole body donation. During an annual memorial service, organized by NYITCOM Office of Student Life in coordination with the NYITCOM anatomy department, held on May 8, the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) Class of 2021 and physician assistant students in NYIT School of Health Professions paid tribute to 52 men and women who donated their bodies to science.
Following an indoor ceremony at the Hannah and Charles Serota Academic Center, which included a moving performance of “Hallelujah” by the Note-O-Chords, students placed vibrant flowers, including Gerber daisies, peonies, and mums, at the base of a small tree in memory of the donors and paused for a moment of reflection.
“The sacrifice the donors gave is a sacrifice that will stay with us for the rest of our careers,” said Brady Stevens, NYITCOM Class of 2021 president.
Not only does whole body donation give medical students the opportunity to study the complexities of human anatomy far beyond the abilities of a textbook or computer, it also provides students with great appreciation for human life. Last fall, first-year students and physician assistant students dissected the human body during anatomy lab sessions, a practice which allowed them to consider each donor as their first patient, as well as a person, friend, and teacher.
“While the privilege of whole body donation allows medical students to understand real human anatomy, equally as important, it allows them to develop the compassion needed to help people live healthier lives. As students became acquainted with these individuals, they grew to recognize them as someone who once had a family, friends, and a place in the world,” said Brian Beatty, Ph.D., assistant professor of anatomy in NYITCOM, who joined students in reflection.
“A physician’s work is about more than memorizing body parts, processes, and conditions—it’s about empathy and forging connections that strengthen the healing process,” said Wolfgang Gilliar, D.O., dean of NYITCOM. “Just as these donors have touched many individuals during their lifetime, their legacy and impact on the world continues as they provide medical students and future patients with the tremendous gift of knowledge.”