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 12/2008; 1(6):264-6. DOI: 10.1002/ase.52
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT 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.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Experience in maintaining excellence in teaching of human anatomy is important in informing strategies to mitigate worldwide decline in the level of knowledge of human anato my among medical students and qualifying doctors. F actors responsible for the decline include reduction in teaching time, inadequate teachers and undermining of cadaver dissection. Measures to address these challenges have resulted in wide disparities in c urriculum design , teaching methods, number and composition of instructors. De spite the challenges of rising student numbers and staff shortages , the Department of H uman A natomy of the University of Nairobi has maintained excellence in teaching for over 40y rs. This article describes the teaching of anatomy at the University with a view of elucidating the practices from which other departments can learn. Analysis reveals that human anatomy is allocated 630hrs per year of which 350hrs are assigned to gross ana tomy with 270hrs devoted to dissection. Although dissection has remained the cornerstone of instruction, it is combined with problem based learning , use of prosections, diagnostic imaging, computer aided and small group teachin g. Teaching of gross anatomy is integrated with microscopic, developmental and neuroanatomy. The department runs an intercalated Bachelor of Science degree program, which is a reliable source of members of staff. Over 70% of the staff are surgeons. They are assisted by demonstrators d rawn from trainee surgeons and B.Sc . Anatomy graduates . E xcellence in teaching anatomy can be maintained by reclaiming sufficient teaching time, combin ing dissection with other contemporary methods of instruction, integrating gross, microscopic, developmen tal anatomy , neuroanatomy, involvement of clinicians in teaching, commencing training anatomy early and engagement of demonstrators.
    Anatomy Journal of Africa. 01/2013; 2(1):117-129.
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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 03/2014;
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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 07/2013;