Competencies for Teaching Anatomy Effectively and Efficiently

  • John F. MorrisEmail author


Anatomy is both a science and a body of required knowledge for clinical practice. While aspects of anatomy remain of critical importance of doctors, the time available for anatomy in the curriculum has been steadily decreased because of the claims of emerging disciplines. For anatomy teaching to be effective and efficient, teaching staff need to:
  • Determine what part of the subject needs to be taught at what point in an undergraduate course or at postgraduate level;

  • Determine what, at any point in a course, is the ‘core’ information students need to acquire;

  • Understand the evolution and ontogenetic development of the human body;

  • Stress understanding and concepts rather than individual ‘facts’;

  • Encourage active exploration of the subject matter.

Anatomy teaching works best and is the easiest to learn:
  • When teaching starts with function and progresses to the structures needed to produce the function;

  • When there is integrated teaching of cadaveric anatomy, living anatomy, and imaging anatomy;

  • When the teacher puts on a memorable ‘performance’.


Deep Learning Active Exploration Teaching Staff Imaging Anatomy Great Saphenous Vein 
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    MacKinnon PCB, Morris JF. Oxford textbook of functional anatomy, vols. 1, 2, 3. 1st ed. (1986–1990), 2nd ed. (2005). Oxford: Oxford University Press (available as MacKinnon and Morris Textbook of Functional Anatomy after 2014).Google Scholar
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    McHanwell S, Atkinson M, Davies DC, Dyball R, Morris JF, Ockleford C, Parkin I, Whiten S, Wilton J. A core syllabus in anatomy for medical students— Adding common sense to the need to know. Eur J Anat. 2007;11(Suppl 1):3–18.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physiology, Anatomy and GeneticsUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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