Development of a Flexible, Co-enrolled Teaching Assistant Program in an Anatomy Course with a Low Faculty-to-Student Ratio

Academic Article


  • The study of human anatomy has long been one of the cornerstones of medical training and practice. However, the need to teach other preclinical subjects in more depth within modern medical curricula has led to increasingly fewer hours being dedicated to anatomy. With limited time and few qualified instructors, the ability to convey fundamental anatomical knowledge and understanding to medical students poses a major challenge for anatomy educators. In the present study, we describe the design and initial implementation of a near-peer Anatomy Teaching Assistant Program (AT-AP) and evaluate the students’ perceptions of its success. We demonstrate how, in addition to improving the anatomy education for undergraduate medical students, the teaching assistants (TAs; advanced medical and MD/Ph.D. students) were able to gain much needed experience for upcoming teaching responsibilities in their respective residencies. At the University Of Alabama School Of Medicine (UASOM), gross anatomy is not taught as one consecutive block but is interspersed within organ modules of the first 2 years of undergraduate medical education (UME). There has been a consistently low faculty-to-student ratio in the anatomy lab despite increasing student numbers. This shorthandedness has led to challenges in the gross anatomy laboratory setting. Addressing the issue by recruiting advanced medical students as teaching assistants (TAs) has been unsuccessful due to their rigid clinical scheduling. The goal of this study was to describe the design, successful implementation, and evaluation of a flexible co-enrolled elective Gross Anatomy Teaching Assistant Program within the context of an integrated system-based curriculum.
  • Authors

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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Resuehr D; Makeeva V
  • Start Page

  • 53
  • End Page

  • 60
  • Volume

  • 25
  • Issue

  • 1