Adequacy of medical school gross anatomy education as perceived by certain postgraduate residency programs and anatomy course directors

W W Cottam
Clinical Anatomy 1999, 12 (1): 55-65
In light of the many changes that have been made in medical gross anatomy instruction, an attempt was made to determine the adequacy of medical student preparation in gross anatomy upon arrival at a postgraduate residency program and whether the adequacy of preparation had changed in the last 10 years. To address these questions, a survey was mailed to all of the programs in four postgraduate residencies in the United States. This survey requested information about the importance of gross anatomy to the discipline, the adequacy of resident preparation, how today's residents compare to those of 10 years ago, and in what areas they are deficient. Another survey was mailed to all medical school anatomy departments to follow changes in curriculum, teaching methods, curriculum hours, and staffing in gross anatomy. Overall, of the surveys mailed, 79% were returned, 78% from the residency programs, and 81% from the anatomy departments. A majority of the residency programs report that gross anatomy is either extremely important or very important to mastery of their discipline and rank it as the most important basic science. Overall, 57% of the residency program directors felt that residents need a refresher in gross anatomy upon arrival, 29% felt that they were adequately prepared, whereas 14% felt they were seriously lacking. Fifty-six percent of the residency programs indicated that the residents are as prepared as those of 10 years ago, 41% indicated that they are less prepared, and only 4% said that they were better prepared. There were significant differences in the responses between the different residency programs. The residency programs indicated that residents need to arrive more proficient in clinical applications, general knowledge, and cross-sectional applications. Anatomy departments continue to modify their curriculum and teaching methods, decrease the curriculum hours and faculty devoted to gross anatomy, and foresee problems obtaining qualified gross anatomy teachers in the future.

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