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Am Surg. 1986 May;52(5):227-32.

Gross anatomy in medical education.


The present state of human gross anatomy in medical education can generally be characterized as the presentation of a large bolus of information that is swallowed and only partly digested during the first year of medical school. The subject is often taught in a depth beyond that which would be relevant to all physicians irrespective of their future professional careers. This condition has resulted from adaptive adjustments to the escalating discrepancy between a rapidly expanding knowledge base in science and technology and the relatively fixed time period for education of a physician. Initially, traditional courses retained their comprehensive character, and new information was simply piled on top of existing departmental offerings. It soon became obvious that there would have to be a reduction in time devoted to established courses and a reciprocal expansion of time to accommodate newly developing sciences. Such adjustments were painful and often led to conflicts about what comprises essential knowledge in medical education. Thus, the curriculum time devoted to human gross anatomy has been significantly reduced to accommodate new knowledge in cellular and sub-cellular structures and other disciplines. That common foundation of knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes essential to all physicians regardless of specialty is ever-changing and often debated by medical school faculty members. However, two facts are generally agreed upon: that today's medical student with a broad but perhaps thin base in science and limited direct clinical experience is not competent upon graduation to assume patient care responsibilities without supervision and that as a result, the formal education of a physician has expanded into the graduate domain.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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