Anatomy 1999-2000: The curriculum, who teaches it and how?

D. J. A. Heylings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

191 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: To review the impact of Tomorrow's Doctors1 on anatomical teaching in the UK and Ireland. To establish in particular whether a consensus has emerged on: (a) the duration and format of teaching, and (b) the impact on staffing and on the four main anatomical disciplines of gross anatomy, histology, embryology and neuroanatomy.

Method and Results: A postal survey of 28 anatomy departments was carried out. This yielded a response rate of 75%. Twelve departments used systems-based curricula, five used problem-based curricula, and four used a traditional regional format. There were variable levels of integration between the anatomical disciplines and subjects outside anatomy. Dissection taught over the first 2 years was retained in 76% of the courses, frequently supplemented with demonstrations, with an average of 2 hours of practical work for every hour of lecture. Staff/student ratios varied with the type of curriculum: dissection room teaching and problem-based curricula were associated with higher numbers of either full or part-time clinically qualified teachers. Teaching was supported by a high proportion of part-time clinically qualified staff, giving an overall average staff/student ratio of 19·8 in a dissection class.

Conclusions: There is considerable variation in duration and staffing of anatomy teaching, according to the type of curriculum. This suggests there may well be substantial variation in the level, content and depth of anatomical curricula across the country, and that this should be quantified.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)702-710
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Education
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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