Lessons to be learned from the history of anatomical teaching in the United States: the example of the University of Michigan

Anatomical Sciences Education
Sabine Hildebrandt

Abstract

Although traditional departments of anatomy are vanishing from medical school rosters, anatomical education still remains an important part of the professional training of physicians. It is of some interest to examine whether history can teach us anything about how to reform modern anatomy. Are there lessons to be learned from the history of anatomical teaching in the United States that can help in the formulation of contents and purposes of a new anatomy? This question is explored by a review of US anatomical teaching with special reference to Franklin Paine Mall and the University of Michigan Medical School. An historical perspective reveals that there is a tradition of US anatomical teaching and research that is characterized by a zeal for reform and innovation, scientific endeavor, and active, student-driven learning. Further, there is a tradition of high standards in anatomical teaching through the teachers' engagement in scientific anatomy and of adaptability to new requirements. These traditional strengths can inform the innovation of modern anatomy in terms of its two duties--its duty to anatomy as a science and its duty toward anatomical education.

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