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How to use available anatomy resources

Anatomy is a very individual subject, considering the fact that by the time a student has completed the course, they will be able to recognize a very distinct studying pattern that was devised, copied or simply emerged in order to retain information. The specific Anatomy tools that are utilized in this process: books, online Atlases, flashcards etc., and how to use them, can seem daunting to the new student. Here the following questions are addressed using the advice of a newly qualified Doctor:

  • How do you know if the materials are of any use?
  • How do you use the materials you have at your disposal?

How do you know if the materials are of any use?

Books for learning anatomy

The best way to test the materials that you are thinking of purchasing are by comparing them to your booklist, syllabus or by directly asking a teacher.

Usually if the the book is on the University booklist, it’s a given that it will be accepted, but if it isn’t you might want to ask your teacher's opinion. Be warned however that this might not go down well, so your best bet is to go through it with a comb next to the syllabus.

Most online shipping companies selling books allow you to look through a chapter and the contents, index etc. That should give you a good idea if that book really is for you. The same principle applies to free trials or free software upon signup to online learning facilities.

Check online programs and shipping companies

Check online programs and shipping companies

Don’t forget that even if a certain material looks good, if it doesn’t serve your way of studying, it’s not for you. You will learn this as you go along, so there might be some difficulties in the beginning and perhaps some bad purchases, but sure enough you will find your way. Patience, consistency and dedication are key!

How do you use the materials you have at your disposal?

Finally, once you have accumulated the materials that work for you, you need to think about what works for you. Here is a list of ideas that will help you study systematically (not necessarily in order for everyone!):

  1. Read through the chapter and learn the terminology before class so you have an idea of what is going on and any questions can be answered directly by your teacher.
  2. Make Notes (in class and at home from your books and combine them!)
  3. After the class combine the knowledge you have been given by the teacher with your chosen study materials and use a system to keep the terminology and basics understood AND memorized with the details simply understood.
  4. Create a study schedule once you have established how fast you study and how often, and when the midterms and exams are.
  5. If simply reading, or listening, or re-writing isn’t working for you, STOP. Reevaluate, even if you feel it’s too late, and try something else. It takes time to find a studying pattern and no one else can help you except you! But once you find it, it’s pretty much smooth sailing from then on!
  6. Anatomy: Memorize the terminology using the Atlas. Once you know where something is and what it is then go through the theory (function, blood supply, innervation, etc.)
  7. Histology: Read Histology basics and learn the names and characteristics of the different cells in the whole chapter and the types of staining (slide by slide is too slow because you will have to repeat the cells over and over!) Combine the terminology with the theory. Have the slide or the picture next to you and reference it.
  8. Embryology: Usually the material will be theory based with some images. Look through the images once quickly in the chosen chapter, however these subject doesn’t make sense until you read through it. Take the theory and the pictures together. Notes without pictures won’t provide a great understanding since you can’t really imagine a developing foetus unless you see it. Once you have read the chapter, go back over the images and quickly recap in your mind what you have learned.
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  • Dr. Alexandra Sieroslawska
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