Introduction Dissecting cadavers to study Human Anatomy is an integral part of first year medical education. The aim of this study was to describe the experiences of the first year medical students during their first day of cadaver dissection.
Methods This study analyzed interviews of twelve first year medical students, chosen via purposive sampling, who were present during the first day of cadaver dissection in gross anatomy. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed through a Husserlian descriptive phenomenological approach.
Results Five common themes were identified: 1) fear of the unknown, 2) group dynamics, 3) sense of awe and amazement of the cadaver's body, 4) respect for the body, and 5) taming of death as a rite of passage to being a doctor.
Conclusion Of the five emergent themes, taming death as a rite of passage to being a doctor is the essence of the experiences of the first year medical students during the first day of cadaver dissection.