Why don't they know enough about anatomy? A narrative review

E. M. Bergman*, Cees P. M. Van Der Vleuten, Albert J. J. A. Scherpbier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Publications in a variety of journals have described the problem of medical students' decreasing anatomical knowledge. Interestingly, the number of people making this assertion is growing, despite a lack of empirical evidence that today's medical graduates actually know less about anatomy than medical students in the past. Nevertheless, many people are claiming that students' anatomical knowledge is impaired due to negative effects from several factors, including teaching by non-medically qualified teachers, diminished use of cadaver dissection as a teaching tool and neglect of vertical integration of anatomy teaching. Aim: To find empirical evidence for the factors claimed to have an influence on anatomical knowledge of students. Method: A literature search. Results: There is a lack of sufficient quantity and quality of information within the existing literature to support any of the claims, but the gathered literature did reveal some fascinating insights which are discussed. Conclusion: Anatomy education should be made as effective as possible, as nobody will deny that medical students cannot do without anatomical knowledge. Because of promising findings in the areas of teaching in context, vertical integration and assessment strategies, it is recommended that future research into anatomy education should focus on these factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-409
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011


Dive into the research topics of 'Why don't they know enough about anatomy? A narrative review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this