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Keywords:

  • gross anatomy;
  • competence;
  • curriculum;
  • dissection;
  • anatomy education;
  • multimedia;
  • prosection;
  • professionalism;
  • review

Abstract

Anatomy has historically been a cornerstone in medical education regardless of nation or specialty. Until recently, dissection and didactic lectures were its sole pedagogy. Teaching methodology has been revolutionized with more reliance on models, imaging, simulation, and the Internet to further consolidate and enhance the learning experience. Moreover, modern medical curricula are giving less importance to anatomy education and to the acknowledged value of dissection. Universities have even abandoned dissection completely in favor of user-friendly multimedia, alternative teaching approaches, and newly defined priorities in clinical practice. Anatomy curriculum is undergoing international reformation but the current framework lacks uniformity among institutions. Optimal learning content can be categorized into the following modalities: (1) dissection/prosection, (2) interactive multimedia, (3) procedural anatomy, (4) surface and clinical anatomy, and (5) imaging. The importance of multimodal teaching, with examples suggested in this article, has been widely recognized and assessed. Nevertheless, there are still ongoing limitations in anatomy teaching. Substantial problems consist of diminished allotted dissection time and the number of qualified anatomy instructors, which will eventually deteriorate the quality of education. Alternative resources and strategies are discussed in an attempt to tackle these genuine concerns. The challenges are to reinstate more effective teaching and learning tools while maintaining the beneficial values of orthodox dissection. The UK has a reputable medical education but its quality could be improved by observing international frameworks. The heavy penalty of not concentrating on sufficient anatomy education will inevitably lead to incompetent anatomists and healthcare professionals, leaving patients to face dire repercussions. Anat Sci Educ 3: 83–93, 2010. © 2010 American Association of Anatomists.