We had an autopsy today. On my current rotation, we do a bit of everything. Most of the workload is surgical pathology, but there is also cytology, and the occasional autopsy. For some reason having the rare autopsy seems rougher than doing an entire month of autopsy rotation. Like most pathology residents I am not a fan of autopsies. I get that they can play an important role in providing closure for the family after the death of a loved one. Sometimes they can solve medical mysteries. And autopsies can provide a good learning experience for pathologists and for clinicians.
But I just find the whole process to be disturbing on a very visceral level--the smells, the sounds, the general gore. When I did a month of autopsy there were cases so frequently that I was emotionally prepared (at least on some level) for doing them. The guard was up. Now having one dumped on our desks at 11 am to be performed at 1 pm does not give much time to prepare emotionally. It is one aspect of this field that can definitely be really draining.