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Keywords:

  • anatomy;
  • dissection;
  • education

Anatomy teaching and, more specifically, the use of dissection in undergraduate anatomy teaching is undergoing a sea change in Australian medical schools. Until as recently as the 1970s, all medical students in Australia underwent an extensive course in dissection, taking up as much as 700 hours of curriculum time. Today, dissection is compulsory in only a minority of anatomy departments. There has been much discussion about the use of dissection in anatomy teaching, and both sides of the argument have considerable merit. Less widely discussed have been the other benefits of anatomical dissection, such as the development of surgical skills, an appreciation of whole-body pathology, and the teaching of ethical and moral issues that are central to the development of the professional doctor. Dissection still has an important role to play in undergraduate medical education.