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Med Teach. 2006 Mar;28(2):142-51.

Design principles for developing an efficient clinical anatomy course.

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Department of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8062, USA.


The exponential growth of medical knowledge presents a challenge for the medical school curriculum. Because anatomy is traditionally a long course, it is an attractive target to reduce course hours, yet designing courses that produce students with less understanding of human anatomy is not a viable option. Faced with the challenge of teaching more anatomy with less time, we set out to understand how students employ instructional media to learn anatomy inside and outside of the classroom. We developed a series of pilot programs to explore how students learn anatomy and, in particular, how they combine instructional technology with more traditional classroom and laboratory-based learning. We then integrated what we learned with principles of effective instruction to design a course that makes the most efficient use of students' in-class and out-of-class learning. Overall, we concluded that our new anatomy course needed to focus on transforming how medical students think, reason, and learn. We are currently testing the hypothesis that this novel approach will enhance the ability of students to recall and expand their base of anatomical knowledge throughout their medical school training and beyond.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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