Art of Medicine
Sep 2019

Anatomy of a Medical Student

Fatimah Hafeez Choudhary
AMA J Ethics. 2019;21(9):E813-814. doi: 10.1001/amajethics.2019.813.


A reductive linocut is created in progressive stages from a single block. Each color is printed on top of a previous layer, such that each cut is irremediable. This reductive linocut print is of a young woman’s face with one side exposing what lies below her skin. The finality imposed by this medium offers an apt analogy to a medical student’s first human cadaver anatomy dissection.


Figure. Anatomy of a Medical Student



Reductive linocut print.

A reductive linocut is created in progressive stages from a single block. Each layer is carved and color is printed on top of the previous layer. The medium was invented by Pablo Picasso,1 and it is aptly referred to as the “suicide print,” as it is virtually impossible to go back and recover from a mistake. Each cut is decisive, irremediable. When I first held scalpel to skin, I was doing dissection with fellow students, and there was tremendous pressure not to make a mistake. A broader ethical challenge for us medical students would be to pursue dissection while expressing respect for our cadaver’s humanity.


  1. Haney A. History and Techniques of Printmaking [master’s thesis]. Prescott, AZ: Prescott College; 2015. Accessed May 2, 2019.

Editor's Note

This is the co-winning artwork of the 2018 John Conley Art of Medicine Contest.


AMA J Ethics. 2019;21(9):E813-814.



Conflict of Interest Disclosure

The author(s) had no conflicts of interest to disclose. 

The viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.