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Top Tips for Learning Anatomy

heart anatomy

1) Get to grips with the basics

Learning anatomy can be a daunting experience for everyone. Often, it takes a while to get used to how anatomy is taught, and how to adapt your own learning style to suit this. Anatomy at Medical School will be unlike any other subject you’ve been taught at school. In my opinion, it can be useful to learn some of the basic anatomy terms prior to your first anatomy session. Ever heard of the word ‘fascia’? No? Well don’t worry! There is a whole new anatomy language you’ll learn once you start your course. This blog is here to help you to approach your first session with confidence, and to make sure you aren’t bowled over by the barrage of strange new words!

2) Make the most of dissection sessions and anatomy tutorials

If your university offers tutorials or cadaver dissection, it can help tremendously if you’ve prepared for these beforehand. It is useful to learn the names of structures within the section of the body you are going to learn in the lesson. For example, if you are studying the heart, recap the different chambers, valves and vessels. Preparing for each sessions will allow you to gain the most out of the anatomy class. It also will give you an opportunity to test your understanding, and give you the chance to ask questions about things you are unsure of.

3) Learn to speak the “anatomy language”

A vast number of the terms used in anatomy will be unfamiliar to those who have not previously learnt the subject. One of the ways to keep up to date with different words is to keep a glossary every time you learn a new one. This can be updated after each session! Often the same language is used for different parts of the body, therefore learning these general terms can really benefit the overall anatomy experience.

4) Study in groups

It can help to form a group with fellow students who you work well with (often called ‘friends’). Try to meet with your study group/friends regularly to recap information learnt after each session. You can then quiz each other and go over any anatomy concepts that you misunderstood (there’ll be plenty of these). This will also help you to prepare for future dissection sessions whilst also ensuring you revise the content as you go along.

5) Link structure to function

Often the function of an organ will be known before the anatomy is learnt. For example, many students learn about the kidney during their A levels but do not learn the detailed anatomy. A way to aid learning is to link the structures seen in the body to their function. Linking concepts that are learnt often helps with retaining new information.

6) Learn in sections

Learning the whole anatomy of the human body in one go would be extremely difficult. It helps to break the human body into sections and then to link the sections together at a later date. This will help you to learn the specific sections in enough detail. It can also prevent anatomy from becoming overwhelming.

7) Utilise a variety of methods

Every student has a diffferent way of learning. Those who are visual learners might like to use an anatomy colouring book to recap the structures. For those who prefer active learning I would recommend Kenhub, an online software that has quizzes of anatomical structures as well as other learning resources. For learners that enjoy watching videos to revise, Acland’s Anatomy is a good resource that uses cadavers with directed learning.

8) Practice using real images

Often anatomy exams will be based on “spotters”. This involves different structures of the body being pointed to, which you then name. These are more than often based on cadavers. Due to this, although it can help learning from cartoon based pictures it is best to use images from cadavers to be sure that you can identify them correctly in spotter exams.

Uploaded by Alessandra on 9th December, 2015

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