JOHNSON CITY (Posted Dec. 16, 2011) – As a third-year student at East Tennessee State University’s James H. Quillen College of Medicine, Jocelyn Wilson certainly has a way with science.
She also has a way with language – enough so that a national magazine gave her an award of excellence for poetry. Wilson’s poem, “The First Cut,” was published in the 12th edition of The Legible Script, a literary journal for medical students.
Wilson’s work was inspired by gross anatomy class, a requisite and memorable part of education for every medical student. After her first experience of practicing medical training on a human cadaver, she wrote the poem as a tribute to the people who choose to donate their bodies to medical science, while also trying to capture the sanctity of the moment. Her effort garnered the 2011 First Place Award for Poetry.
“Gross anatomy continues to be an indelible and unifying aspect of undergraduate medical education,” said Wilson, who is from Oak Ridge. “I remember the first day my lab partners – Dane Daley, Robert Gibson and Rebecca Red – and I stood before our cadaver. We were eager to begin and I remember Dane saying something like, ‘Who wants to start?’
“As I put scalpel to skin, I whispered up a prayer. As the class came to a close we were encouraged to take part in a memorial service, and I wanted to write something that captured the intensity of the moment, the class, and medical school in general. The result was ‘The First Cut.’”
Wilson’s poem includes the passage:
I find it odd that I would question the process
by which a person could make decisions
That bring forth greater illumination
This is not foreign to me.
As I ever return my thoughts to the first cut
I am thankful for the sacrifice
I am thankful for the knowledge
The journal is published by the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine.