I am looking for published studies comparing the impact of prosection, dissection versus multimedia in the gross anatomy courses for undergraduate students. I wonder whether I do not miss some literature by searching through medline.
Literature searches and speaking with various people will give you different viewpoints on this topic. I have attached the results of literature searches that may help you.
In my own experience, many colleges, in particular junior colleges are now using strictly dry labs – no cadavers, with the use of instructional aids such as the ADAM CD-ROMS. There are two junior colleges that do use “a cadaver” that has been prosected for the student to “observe” structure.
I think that there are many factors that affect this direction of choice. First, the number of individuals being trained to teach gross anatomy is declining. Teaching gross anatomy is a tremendous commitment, and this may be one of the major reasons for this. Secondly, in many states cadaver donations are decreasing. The number of computer-assisted instructional aids is increasing, but colleges need to be cautious to pick the best products for use. I spend a great deal of time reviewing instructional resources and tools for my doctors, but have yet to find a substitute for gross dissection. At present, my thinking is that there is no substitute for actual dissection experience. A computer simulation offers one view, with modern anatomy laboratory, such as we have at the Northwest Medical Education, uses “multiple” cadaver donors – each with anatomical variations not seen in computer simulations. Students need to be trained with cadavers to learn anatomy and skilled dissection. Each time a patient enters the physician’s office, a new anatomical situation presents. Use of the human cadaver is the representation to “living” human anatomy that student doctors need adequately to prepare them for clinical rotations, surgical residencies and future clinical or office practice. Furthermore, human dissection is a fascinating learning experience, and it is a privilege to be allowed to participate in this experience. Perhaps, Bob D. Acland, M.D. best:
“Clearly you aim to make this the best possible experience for future life-long learners. It would be encouraging to tell students that, as important at this introductory experience will be, they should expect to go on learning and re-learning anatomy throughout their professional careers. For those who choose anatomically challenging careers, the Gross Anatomy Lab experience is only a small start to anatomic study. I wish someone had told me this when I entered school 40 years ago.
My colleagues and I have been developing a CD/DVD that may interest you. This project focuses on the current use of cadavers in medical schools with emphasis on cadaver donation/donation process; respect and human dignity; student expectations; statements from instructors and students. The CD/DVD introduces students to the anatomy laboratory and the cadaver experience. It will be available in summer 2004.