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Daniel P. Mass, M.D.
April 23, 2012

Dr. Daniel P. Mass is Professor of Surgery at the University of Chicago. He also serves as Vice Chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitative Medicine and Director of the Hand and Micro Surgery Fellowship Program at the university.

He is one of the world’s most respected hand surgeons. “Forty years ago, when I took anatomy, it was a lot different. Nobody studied skin, but skin has circulation and nerves. It’s critical to what I do” Dr. Mass emphasized the importance of direct contact with the body, “I tell medical students that anatomy is the basis of all medical practice. Diagnosis can be made from understanding anatomy. If you listen, patients will tell you where it hurts, and knowing what we know we can discover what the problem is. Anatomy is the basis to more than fifty percent of all disease processes.

He believes that the study of anatomy should continue throughout a physician’s career. “We need continuous education in anatomy. Gross Anatomy class is five years before residency. I use an arm every year for my surgical residents to review anatomy.” In his view, computer based images might be able to provide continuing anatomical training, “but computerized imaging isn’t quite good enough to eliminate the need for dissection. You can’t be surgeon without feeling the tissues. Computer programs aren’t there yet.”

Dr. Mass was clear about the future of anatomy in medical education in the coming years: “This is the basis of all medical learning, anatomy in three dimensions. It is the basis of half of all disease processes.” He pointed out that anatomy class is a unique moment in the training of a physician. “This is the most interactive time with other medical students. They learn to work together more so than in any other course.”

Dr. Mass stated that he performs about 600 procedures annually. Thus, thousands of patients have benefitted from his skills and experience. A lifetime of research, teaching and treating the intricacies and most minute features of the hand, the arm, and the shoulder began for Dr. Mass in anatomy class as a result of someone who donated his body.



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