The use of plastinated prosections for teaching anatomy—The view of medical students on the value of this learning resource



Over the past decade, the role of anatomical teaching in the undergraduate medical curriculum has changed considerably. At some medical schools, active dissection of cadaveric specimens is gradually being replaced by prosection-based methods and other resources such as e-learning. Warwick Medical School has recently obtained a large collection of plastinated prosections, which replace wet cadaveric specimens in undergraduate anatomy teaching. The aim of this study was to examine students' views on the use of plastinated prosections for their anatomical learning. A mixed method approach was employed using a questionnaire and focus group for data collection. The questionnaire was completed by 125 first-year medical students (response rate 68%). The majority of students (94%) rated plastinated prosections as a valuable resource for their anatomical learning. Various features of the specimens were highlighted, such as the detailed view of relevant anatomy, appreciation of relations between structures, and visualization of anatomy in real life. However, learning on plastinated prosections was perceived to be compromised because of limitations in terms of tactile and emotional experience. We conclude that plastinated prosections are an adequate resource for the early stages of undergraduate training, but that the learning experience may be further enhanced by providing opportunity for the study of wet cadaveric material. Clin. Anat. 24:246–252, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.