The importance of exposure to human material in anatomical education: A philosophical perspective

Centre for Integrative Physiology, College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
Anatomical Sciences Education (Impact Factor: 2.98). 11/2008; 1(6):264-6. DOI: 10.1002/ase.52
Source: PubMed


Despite reductions in the importance, time committed to, and status of anatomical education in modern medical curricula, anatomical knowledge remains a cornerstone of medicine and related professions. Anatomists are therefore presented with the challenge of delivering required levels of core anatomical knowledge in a reduced time-frame and with fewer resources. One common response to this problem is to reduce the time available for students to interact with human specimens (either via dissection or handling of prosected material). In some curricula, these sessions are replaced with didactic or problem-based approaches focussed on transmitting core anatomical concepts. Here, I propose that the adoption of philosophical principles concerning the relationship and differences between "direct experience" and "concept" provides a strong case in support of requiring students to gain significant exposure to human material. These insights support the hypothesis that direct experience of human material is required for "deep," rather than "superficial," understanding of anatomy.

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    • "Influenced through his studies of anatomy, Galen remodeled and advanced Hippocratic theories. A strong advocate for dissection (Nutton, 2002; Gillingwater, 2008), Galen operated on patients, studied osteology, and performed elaborate animal dissections (Kempf, 1904; Shin and Meals, 2005). Galen disseminated theories that significantly contributed to anatomical education and prevailed until the 1800s (Buckwalter, 2000). "
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    ABSTRACT: Few research articles have addressed the anatomical needs of entry-level occupational therapy students. Given this paucity of empirical evidence, there is a lack of knowledge regarding anatomical education in occupational therapy. This article will primarily serve as a retrospective look at the inclusion of anatomical education in the occupational therapy curriculum. Focusing on the historical inclusion is the first step to address the gap in existing knowledge. Examining the history of anatomy in occupational therapy provides an educational context for curricular developments and helps current anatomical educators understand the evolution of occupational therapy as a profession. Exploring the educational history also offers anatomy educators an identity, as significant contributors, in the training and preparedness of entry-level professionals while focusing on the ideals of occupational therapy. However, there is a critical need for empirical evidence of best teaching practices in occupational therapy and anatomical education. This manuscript provides a foundation and a starting point for further investigation into the anatomical competencies for entry-level occupational therapists. Anat Sci Educ. © 2014 American Association of Anatomists.
    Anatomical Sciences Education 11/2014; 7(6). DOI:10.1002/ase.1451 · 2.98 Impact Factor
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    • "Autopsy has long been considered a useful tool in both medical practice (Peacock et al., 1988) and medical education (Galloway, 1999; O'Grady, 2003; Gillingwater, 2008). The potential uses of autopsy-based medical student teaching are well recognized by pathologists and medical educators and include the teaching of basic medical sciences, clinical specialties , medical ethics and medical law, knowledge specific to the autopsy (such as taking consent for autopsies), generic skills in medicine (such as team work), and the delivery of important elements of the " hidden curriculum " (those aspects of medical practice which are learned from observation of teachers' attitudes and activities, rather than from planned teaching events) (Benbow, 1990a,b; Hill and Anderson, 1991; Burton, 2003; Talmon, 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Attending postmortems enables students to learn anatomy and pathology within a clinical context, provides insights into effects of treatment and introduces the reality that patients die. Rates of clinical autopsies have declined and medical schools have cut obligatory autopsy sessions from their curricula making it difficult to assess medical student perceptions of, and attitudes towards, the educational value of autopsy. Our aim was to investigate these perceptions by designing a brief qualitative study comprising nominal technique and focus group discussions with Cambridge Graduate Course students, all of whom had attended autopsies. Three general themes emerged from the focus group discussions: the value of autopsy as a teaching tool and ways the experience could be improved, the initial impact of the mortuary and the autopsy itself, and the "emerging patient"-an emotional continuum running from cadaver to autopsy subject and living patient. Educational benefits of autopsy-based teaching included greater understanding of anatomy and physiology, greater appreciation of the role of other health care professionals and an enhanced appreciation of psycho-social aspects of medical practice. Students suggested improvements for ameliorating the difficult emotional consequences of attendance. We conclude that autopsy-based teaching represents a low-cost teaching technique which is highly valued by students and has application to many diverse medical specialties and skills. However, careful preparation and organization of sessions is required to maximize potential educational benefits and reduce any negative emotional impact. Anat Sci Educ. © 2013 American Association of Anatomists.
    Anatomical Sciences Education 03/2014; 7(2). DOI:10.1002/ase.1384 · 2.98 Impact Factor
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    • "The debate on the value of post-mortem dissection in undergraduate clinical medicine, and its significance (Sheriff and Sheriff, 2010) in interpreting patient's symptoms and clinical signs, rages on (Shaffer, 2004). However, since dissection has withstood the test of time, it will presently remain as an essential aid to learning anatomy (Older, 2004; Crisp, 1989; Azer and Eisenberg, 2007; Gillingwater, 2008; Korf et al., 2008; Sugand et al., 2010). A number of studies have demonstrated that interactive multimedia tools may be more useful in a review of anatomy rather than during primary learning (Shaffer, 2004; Sugand et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Safe clinical practice is based on a sound knowledge of the structure and function of the human body. Thus, knowledge of anatomy has been an essential tool in the practice of healthcare throughout the ages. The history of anatomy in India traces from the Paleolithic Age to the Indus Valley Civilization, the Vedic Times, the Islamic Dynasties, the modern Colonial Period, and finally to Independent India. The course of the study of anatomy, despite accompanying controversies and periods of latencies, has been fascinating. This review takes the reader through various periods of Indian medicine and the role of anatomy in the field of medical practice. It also provides a peek into the modern system of pedagogy in anatomical sciences in India. Anat Sci Educ. © 2013 American Association of Anatomists.
    Anatomical Sciences Education 09/2013; 6(5). DOI:10.1002/ase.1359 · 2.98 Impact Factor
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