The annals of medical school training are filled with sordid tales of students taking glam shots with corpses or assigning unflattering nicknames to cadavers. When Talarico was in medical school, he remembers his classmates calling one cadaver “Salty” because of the tattoo of the naked woman on his chest. “These people had lives and names,” he says, “and to use other names disrespects them.”

Talarico believes his approach not only helps students be more respectful of the individuals who have given their bodies to science but also prepares them to act as empathetic clinicians when they’re faced with the cold, hard medical decisions they’ll have to make in their careers. He has no formal data to prove his approach gets better results, but anecdotally, the students say they feel better prepared to address patients as individuals and consider their feelings. As one student, Adam Harker, explains: “I think it translates into better post-op care and compliance.”