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How is anatomy at your medical school?

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Let's talk about anatomy education in Canadian medical schools. 

How is it taught at your school? 

Do you learn on cadavers at your school? 

Do you feel it's taught effectively? 

Is anatomy taught continuously throughout medical school, only once at the beginning of the first year, or not at all?

Is anatomy mandatory for you? 

Are there any key features that you think make anatomy at your school better than or not as good as elsewhere? 

Do you feel the amount and depth of anatomy education you receive at your medical school prepares you well for medicine rotations & electives?  Surgery rotations and electives?  Radiology electives? Clinical practice in your preferred field?

I am curious about the differences between Canadian medical schools in this regard.  Especially after hearing that McMaster doesn't have cadavers, and anatomy is an optional part of the curriculum there.

 

 

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Hi, I'm a first year med student at UBC.

How is it taught at your school?  Our curriculum is largely case based and as we go through weeks we have different themes (e.g. COPD, diabetes, asthma, depression etc.). In the average week, our anatomy is taught as a one hour lecture plus a 2-3 hour session in the general anatomy lab where we do dissection on human cadavers. Typically, anatomy labs are consistent with the theme of the week. For example, during our week on stroke, we dissected the skull and brain. 

Do you learn on cadavers at your school? Yes. Takes some getting used to. Honestly, I still have moments of apprehension, profound respect for the donor, and gratefulness for the insight they offer us.

Do you feel it's taught effectively? Absolutely. I used to really dislike anatomy when I was taught at McMaster. UBC is fortunate to have Dr. Claudia Krebs who runs a renowned neuroanatomy series on youtube (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErpxEwlWww4. What I think is very frustrating for us, though, is the amount of content taught. The amount of detail taught at UBC is extremely intense. For example, this week we dissected the infratemporal fossa and identified nerves about the size of a human hair... essentially in the cheek. It can be daunting, frustrating, and many students have started to stop attending labs. Understand that our schedule is absolutely crammed. I may be unusual in my study habits, but typically I spend about 2 hours prepping for each anatomy lab, 2 hours in the lab, and 2 hours reviewing it. For neuroanatomy, add an extra hour for each part. Enjoy your undergrad time while you can.

Is anatomy taught continuously throughout medical school, only once at the beginning of the first year, or not at all? 

We're taught anatomy in first and second year. Our clinical years (3 and 4) are much more focused on hospital and clinic work treating actual patients and applying what we know.

Is anatomy mandatory for you? 

Yes. Although, it is technically worth about... 8% of our final mark in a pass/fail course. I know that this sounds like nothing, but our courses are a lot harder than undergrad. The average med student used to get 90s and in med school the class average hovers around 75% so every bit counts.

Are there any key features that you think make anatomy at your school better than or not as good as elsewhere? 

Well, I'd say this is a significant improvement on how i was taught in Mac's anatomy - and our program shared a lab with the med students. As far as I know, mac does continue to use human cadavers. 

Do you feel the amount and depth of anatomy education you receive at your medical school prepares you well for medicine rotations & electives?  Surgery rotations and electives?  Radiology electives? Clinical practice in your preferred field?

I don't know. I find anatomy excessive but honestly it's probably because I want to do peds. I can imagine that a future surgeon would appreciate the detail.

Cheers :)

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I'm a first year McMaster student.

How is it taught at your school? 

Very loosely, mostly through problem-based learning, but there are scheduled blocks for us to go into the lab.

Do you learn on cadavers at your school? 

Yes.

Do you feel it's taught effectively? 

Not in a systematic way. You can get pockets of good teaching if you cluster around one of the anatomists who will answer any question you could possibly think of. They are very helpful and quite interesting to listen to, however it's not going to cover the basics, you'll have to do that on your own at the "stations" they have set up.

Is anatomy taught continuously throughout medical school, only once at the beginning of the first year, or not at all?

It's integrated into all of our learning, but as far as lab goes, that is mainly available in pre-clerkship, although we are welcome to come on our own time at any point during the program.

Is anatomy mandatory for you? 

Not attendance to the lab, no. I haven't gone to the lab in several months because I didn't find the set up to be at all helpful. I have taken a very effective anatomy course in the past and I use that background knowledge plus review when I'm studying.

Are there any key features that you think make anatomy at your school better than or not as good as elsewhere? 

I love McMaster in many ways. I really appreciate the approach to learning in general, but when it comes to anatomy lab I really wish it were a bit more structured and there was a bit more guidance. I don't feel it's an effective use of my time the way it is currently set up. If I were gunning for surgery maybe I would go anyway and make it work for me, but that's not my interest area.

Do you feel the amount and depth of anatomy education you receive at your medical school prepares you well for medicine rotations & electives?  Surgery rotations and electives?  Radiology electives? Clinical practice in your preferred field?

I'm not in clerkship yet, so I don't know. We'll see I guess! I imagine for surgical & radiology rotations I'll have to do so home prep since I haven't been attending lab. Others that attend lab regularly (which is most people I think?) might have a different perspective.

I am curious about the differences between Canadian medical schools in this regard.  Especially after hearing that McMaster doesn't have cadavers, and anatomy is an optional part of the curriculum there.

McMaster DOES have cadavers, that's a lie. They have a ton of dissections to examine, it's actually quite good. It is optional to go to the lab though. Anatomy does get integrated into our problem-based learning as well, I should add.

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McMaster students and residents I've worked with all lamented the weak anatomy teaching they received when I worked with them on rotations that needed that knowledge (surgery, radiology, and rotations heavy on POCUS). Whatever is being done to teach anatomy there doesn't seem to be working very well.

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6 hours ago, 1D7 said:

McMaster students and residents I've worked with all lamented the weak anatomy teaching they received when I worked with them on rotations that needed that knowledge (surgery, radiology, and rotations heavy on POCUS). Whatever is being done to teach anatomy there doesn't seem to be working very well.

They try to avoid "spoon feeding it to us" which means we have to self teach for the most part. They provide some resources, as well as the lab and everything within it, but it would be a lot more helpful to have more structure.

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McMaster has cadavers but its not a dissection course where there are 7 to 8 students per body and you dissect the cadaver out over the course of several months or a year. They have about 5 or so cadavers most of which are in serious state of disrepair, structures are damaged and the body is so dessicated, and forgive me for this analogy but it looks more like jerky than real tissue. I remember one of the anatomists was trying to show us the phrenic nerve innervating the diaphragm and spent half a minute trying to find it before admitting that the phrenic nerve was damaged and disconnected from the diaphragm. 

I genuinely don't understand how McMaster's anatomy lab ever wins any awards, but if they do it is clearly not because of their MD teaching. In fact BHSc students and physiotherapy students are prioritized over MD students for anatomy lab teaching. 

To be fair, McMaster as a whole is kind of a good experiment to show that if you select the right cohort of motivated students, they can essentially figure it out themselves. It kind of proves the Caribbean model isn't completely without merit. 

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5 hours ago, Edict said:

To be fair, McMaster as a whole is kind of a good experiment to show that if you select the right cohort of motivated students, they can essentially figure it out themselves. It kind of proves the Caribbean model isn't completely without merit. 

Yikes, that's quite the scathing review of McMaster...

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