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Keywords:

  • physical therapy education;
  • professionalism;
  • human dignity;
  • physical therapy students;
  • gross anatomy laboratories;
  • cadavers;
  • assessment

Abstract

At Chiba University, gross anatomy laboratory sessions (“laboratories”) are required for physical therapy students. Though most physical therapy schools require their students to participate in laboratories so that they will better understand the structure of the human body, few data exist on the value of these laboratories specifically for physical therapy students. We administered questionnaires to physical therapy undergraduate students both before and after they participated in laboratories. Questionnaire items focused on student attitudes toward the laboratories and on human life and dignity. Data from 83 students were analyzed, with the following results: (1) 74.7% of students had a positive attitude about attending laboratories before doing so; (2) with few exceptions, students' attitudes about upcoming laboratories grew more positive after experiencing the laboratory work (P < 0.001); (3) laboratories caused students to contemplate the topics of human life and dignity; and (4) 83.1% of students hoped to participate in laboratories at least four times. These results indicate that laboratories reinforce physical therapy students' positive attitudes about laboratory learning and promote student reflection on human life and dignity. This study provides support for the implementation of multiple laboratory sessions using cadavers into a uniform curriculum for physical therapy students in Japan. Anat Sci Educ 2: 273–279, 2009. © 2009 American Association of Anatomists.