Trends in histology laboratory teaching in United States medical schools


  • Robert A. Bloodgood,

    Corresponding author
    • Department of Cell Biology, University of Virginia School of Medicine, P.O. Box 800732, Charlottesville, VA 22908
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    • Dr. Bloodgood is professor of cell biology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine (UVSOM) since 1980, has taught histology to medical students as a faculty member since 1977, and has been course director for the cell and tissue structure course at UVa since 1999. He is cochair of the committee of all first- and second-year course directors at UVSOM and a member of the School of Medicine's Curriculum Committee. His research interests are in the area of cell motility.

    • Fax: 434-982-3912

  • Robert W. Ogilvie

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    • Dr. Ogilvie is professor of cell biology and anatomy at the Medical University of South Carolina, where he directs the medical histology and embryology course. He has directed medical histology courses in three medical schools since 1965. He is coeditor, with Jiang Gu, dean of Beijing-College of Medicine, of Virtual Microscopy and Virtual Slides in Teaching, Diagnosis and Research (2005). His research activities over 40 years in academia have included microcirculation of teeth, lung/pulmonary tumors, hyperbaric oxygen treatment, therapeutic effects of exercise, and growth factors on improving circulation to the lower limbs in older persons.


Owing to competition for faculty time among the three major missions of today's academic medical centers, as well as the rapid development of computer-based instructional technologies, laboratory instruction in medical schools in the United States has been undergoing dramatic change. In order to determine recent trends in histology laboratory instruction at U.S. medical schools, a detailed Web survey was administered to histology course directors, with about two-thirds of schools responding. The survey was designed to identify trends in the number of hours of histology laboratory instruction that each medical student receives, the amount of faculty effort devoted to histology laboratory instruction, and the use of various computer-based technologies (including virtual microscopy and virtual slides) in histology laboratory instruction. Consistent with the long-term trend of declining total laboratory teaching hours in U.S. medical schools, there is an ongoing reduction in the number of hours of faculty-directed histology laboratory instruction that each medical student receives, with a concomitant reduction in hours of faculty time devoted to histology laboratory instruction. In terms of the tools used in the histology laboratory, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of various forms of computer-aided instruction (including virtual slides). The large increase in the number of schools using computer-aided instruction has not been accompanied by an equivalent decrease in the number of schools that utilize microscopes and glass slides. Rather, the clear trend has been toward a blending of the new computer-based instructional technologies with the long-standing use of microscopes and glass slides. Anat Rec (Part B: New Anat) 289B:169–175, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.