Monday, May 04, 2015

5 Effective Ways To Study Human Anatomy

Every medical student has to pass through the gauntlet of anatomy lab. Whether or not this is relevant to a modern medical student is debatable, but the rite of passage persists. This guest post by Krystle discusses several ways to enhance your anatomy study techniques.

Human Anatomy has to do with the study of the structure of the body which includes cells, tissues, organs and systems.  It is usually coupled with the study of physiology which is the study of how biological processes function within a living body. The reason being is that in order to understand the various parts of the body properly, it would make sense to have a knowledge of the functionality that they each carry out.

Anatomy can be one of the most daunting subjects for early-year medical and nursing students because of the magnitude of parts that are covered in the human body. A recollection of the technical terms used can prove overwhelming unless proper systems are implemented to assist the mind in recalling each part and function. It is better to strategically approach this study for successful retention of content. The human body consists of 206 bones held together by over 600 muscles, and knowing all this in detail does require above ordinary skill. It is with this that we have put this piece together to assist the Anatomist in absorbing the knowledge of the beauty and intricacies of the human body.

Understand Body Language

In this context body language has less to do with human attraction than it does the syntax and tone – the pronunciation of the words that make up each body parts labeling – so that information is always easily accessible. Having a standard for anatomical terms also makes it easier when communicating those terms. Look at prefixes and suffixes for example; those used in anatomy generally follow a pattern that once understood is like unraveling a scientific code that leads to better retention. Examining the brachiocephalic artery for instance, can tell you what it is, where it’s located and its function if one understood the language of anatomy. That language would tell us by prefix that brachio is a reference to the upper arm, and cephal has to do with the head, and with a general understanding of arteries – a blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart – it’s then simpler to make connections that may infer that the brachiocephalic artery is a blood vessel that carries blood to the such regions of the body as the arms and head.

Look at the thing

One of the best ways to study human anatomy and physiology is via the use of either physical or digital study aids. These come in the form of flash cards, handy interactive 3D apps, charts and beautifully illustrated e-learning platforms designed with medical students in mind.

Flash cards are by no means a replacement for detailed book-content but they quickly assist your mental capacity to draw for information. Specific to anatomy are e-learning gateways such as Kenhub’s Library of Anatomy which covers information such as the upper and lower extremities of the body, the trunk wall, head and neck, thorax, abdomen & pelvis and neuroanatomy. Utilizing resources such as the afore-mentioned, can dramatically improve your ability to obtain better grades in human anatomy courses. Platforms such as this one provide quality illustrations of anatomical structures in a detailed yet easy to remember manner.

Looking Deeper

Now if ever you’re in the position to be able to look at models of the human body don’t hesitate to. Perhaps it’s a model in class, or you may be privy to viewing certain operations in a medical facility. Any chance you get to peer at the human dissections gives you an opportunity to see and recall all the things you’ve been studying. You may not be fortunate to be able to see man-made models, or worse, the real thing, and so you can practice drawing parts of these models and labeling them on a board or on sheets of paper wherever possible. You will find that being able to constantly re-imagine the systems and body parts and to call them out on your own, as if teaching yourself, goes a long way in retaining the material. Having someone close by to talk to while doing your demonstrations helps meditative retention immensely as well.

Pick your brain

Any system that offers quizzes are good for keeping your mind focused on anatomy and physiology. Most popular 3D apps come with these and others are easily found online. By constantly training your mind to remember even short questions on a particular body system or function, helps to boost your memory of it. And remember, when you find that you don’t have your usual quiz materials handy, from just your memory, draw diagrams, label them, and then quiz yourself orally.

Always Review

The importance of reviewing cannot be understated. Not only should you review all that you have studied, but if there’s an anatomy review session by your tutors, make yourself available.
Simply put, anatomy students need to re-read, review illustrations, re-draw, re-contemplate, and review short quizzes, and take breaks from studying. It’s never best to cram this information but to moderately and consistently go back to the content. In the end you will acquire knowledge far greater than any amount of information-hogging could accomplish; your ultimate aim being knowledge and mastery of the art of the human body and functionality.

Krystal Crumbie is an Anatomy Geek at Kenhub.

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