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Anatomical Sciences Education


Gross anatomy education utilizing body donors and human specimens assists the acquisition of non-traditional, discipline-independent skills (NTDIS) such as teamwork, communication, and leadership. Alterations to anatomy curricula, such as those resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, likely impact NTDIS acquisition, yet how this manifests is unclear. This study, therefore, explored anatomy educator perspectives on NTDIS acquisition as a response to changes in teaching delivery. Gross anatomy educators across different countries were recruited and took part in one-on-one, semi-structured interviews that were audio recorded and transcribed. Data were analyzed using the framework method. Basic statistical analyses were performed on demographic and categorical data. Fifteen educators from five continents were interviewed (average length 32.5 min, range 17–51 min). Educator experience ranged from 0–4 years (n = 3) to 20+ years (n = 7). Most taught using dissection (n = 14) with prosection use (n = 13) also common. Themes relating to NTDIS included expected content (respect for donors, teamwork, communication skills, humanistic values), assessable content, assessment challenges, and impact of curriculum changes; NTDIS unique to anatomy education included cultural, ethical, and social considerations around dead bodies, including boundaries, and social norms. Informed by curriculum alterations during the COVID-19 pandemic, this first empirical study of anatomy educator perspectives on NTDIS highlights the potentially adverse educational impacts of decreased interaction with body donors and human specimens on NTDIS acquisition and difficulties with NTDIS assessment. Findings support gross anatomy education as unique in providing NTDIS that cannot easily be replicated elsewhere. Recommendations around NTDIS-specific educator competencies and promoting NTDIS are provided.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.