Understanding the current anatomical competence landscape: Comparing perceptions of program directors, residents, and fourth-year medical students

Erin P. Fillmore, James J. Brokaw, Komal Kochhar, Peter M. Nalin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


A mixed methods survey of fourth-year medical students, resident physicians, and residency program directors at the Indiana University School of Medicine gathered perceptions of anatomical competence—defined as the anatomical education necessary for effective clinical practice. The survey items explored numerous aspects of anatomical competence, including the most effective modes of instruction, perceptions of readiness for clinical practice, and specific suggestions for improving anatomical education during medical school and residency. The response rate was 46% for fourth-year medical students, 47% for residents (as graduates from 137 medical schools), and 71% for program directors. A majority of students and residents reported that their course in Gross Anatomy prepared them well for clinical practice; that cadaveric dissection was important in the early development of their anatomical competence; and that placing a greater emphasis on clinical relevance in medical school would have improved their anatomical competence even further. However, in terms of anatomical preparedness upon entering residency, the program directors rated their residents less prepared than the residents rated themselves. All three groups agreed that there is need for additional opportunities for anatomical educational during medical school and residency. Suggestions for improving anatomical education included the following: providing more opportunities for cadaveric dissection during medical school and residency; more consistent teaching of anatomy for clinical practice; more workshops that review anatomy; and better integration of anatomy with the teaching of other subjects during medical school. Anat Sci Educ 9: 307–318.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-318
Number of pages12
JournalAnatomical Sciences Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • adequate preparation
  • anatomical competence
  • clinical practice
  • gross anatomy education
  • medical education
  • perception of anatomy knowledge
  • residency directors
  • residency education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Embryology

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