The rise and fall of anatomy
Anatomy—nearing extinction or set for a come back? Kaji Sritharan went to a conference to find out
Medical students these days “don't know their elbow from their anus.” Tongue in cheek or fact? On today's medical school curriculum anatomy is a shadow of its former self, competing for teaching time with subjects such as genetics, public health, and communication skills. As the information revolution in medicine gathers greater momentum, and newer approaches to teaching such as earlier clinical exposure, systems based teaching, problem based learning are trialled, will anatomy be further marginalised perhaps even to extinction?
“Anatomy may be falling—but it is not supine yet!” Robin Williamson, dean of the Royal Society of Medicine, reassured us. Speaking at a conference revealingly titled “The Rise and Fall of Anatomy” at the Royal Society of Medicine, he warned of “the dangerous trend to demote anatomy.”
Few would dispute the value at undergraduate level of learning (or cramming) the origin and insertion of every muscle and the intimate, protracted course