Duration: 1-2 Weeks

Interested in surgery? Internal medicine? Pediatrics? Neuroscience? Forensics? Then this is the rotation for you. The University of Wisconsin Hospital is an autopsy reference center for the state performing approximately 400 postmortem examinations annually. If you are an individual who learns best by seeing and participating, this is your opportunity. Future surgeons will have the chance to review critical anatomy in a low-key and educational setting. Future primary care physicians can see firsthand the pathophysiology of renal, pulmonary, and cardiovascular diseases. Those with an interest in criminal death investigation can gain a familiarity with various evidence collection methods and legal concerns in the field of forensic pathology.

UW Morgue

Overall, the purpose of autopsy is to determine final diagnoses and, insofar as possible, the cause manner, and mechanism of death. Autopsy serves as a vital hospital quality assurance measure by evaluating diagnostic accuracy and therapeutic efficacy. It is an important means of public health surveillance, helping to track infectious disease outbreaks, identify environmental hazards, and accurately document vital statistics. It provides biomedical investigators with necessary normal and diseased human tissues for research. And finally, it is a key component of criminal death investigations.

Occluded Coronary Artery found at Autopsy
UW Resident working on autopsy dissection

Those students rotating on autopsy are expected to attend both forensic and hospital autopsy prosections, and participate with graduated responsibility. Autopsies generally start no earlier than 10am (although they can start later) and are generally completed by 2-3 pm. Students should also plan to attend weekly pathology conferences including daily resident education conference (8 am) , Gross Autopsy Conference (Tues & Fri @ noon) and Gross Neuropathology Conference (Mon & Thur @ 1:15). Questions are encouraged!