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The FASEB Journal



Covid-19 created challenges to anatomy education, particularly gross anatomy given the traditional in-person format of lectures and lab. The objective of this study was to assess the changes in lecture methods and lab materials used in anatomy courses that ran between May-August (T1) and August-December (T2) 2020 responding to Covid-19 restrictions.


A survey was distributed to anatomy educators through professional associations from June-November 2020. Respondents indicated (1) their institution; (2) programs taught (professional health (PH), medicine (MED), or undergraduate (UG)); (3) course type (integrated or stand-alone); (4) percentage of lab time before and during Covid-19 that utilized cadaveric, plastic, and/or other teaching materials; and (5) lecture format. Institutions were classified as public or private via institution websites. Mann-Whitney U and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests with Bonferroni correction compared responses before and during Covid-19 across programs, course type, and institution. Data are presented as percent increase (+value) or decrease (-value). Alpha<5%.


T1 and T2 received 67 and 191 responses, respectively. During T1 and T2, cadaver use decreased in PH (-58% & -28%), MED (-55% & -34%), and UG (-57% & -55%) programs (P≤0.045); stand-alone (-58% & -33%,P0.05), except UG decreased plastic usage during T2 (-20%; P=0.033). During T1 and T2, use of other teaching materials increased in PH (+1180% & +278%), MED (+385% & +1000%), and UG (+285% & +246%) (P≤0.015); stand-alone (+920% & +540%, P


Reduction in cadaver use and in-person lecture were most pronounced in T1, but remained diminished through both time points, suggesting a shift from the initial pandemic response to teaching to more complex hybrid programs as regulations permitted.


This study provides evidence to better understand how anatomy educators adapted their gross anatomy teaching due to Covid-19 across programs. In addition, this study provides first of its kind insight into how anatomy was taught across programs prior to Covid-19. Future studies need to determine whether the findings characterized here were pandemic-based or if they represent long-term changes for anatomy education.



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COVID-19, gross anatomy education, integrated curriculum, laboratory, medical education, online anatomy, remote teaching, stand-alone courses, virtual anatomy