The last two decades of medical education have been marked by a persistent push towards curricular reform. Anatomy as a discipline, the unshakable foundation of medical teaching for hundreds of years, has been at the centre of this development. Although it is widely agreed that for doctors to be competent, they need an adequate knowledge of anatomy underpinning medicine, there is much less agreement over the quantity required, and who should decide and define it. Many clinicians feel medical students are being under-trained in this basic medical science before reaching the clinical stages. Professional accreditation boards advocate the reduction of factual information in undergraduate medical courses. Anatomists complain of a progressive erosion of the time allocated to the subject. Caught in the midst of this controversy is the student of anatomy who is left bewildered and confused about what is required from him to become a safe and competent health professional. The way forward might, first, be for medical schools to facilitate discussions between students, anatomy professors, and clinicians to bring these divergent perspectives into alignment. Second, the anatomists need to re-invent themselves in two principal frameworks: first, to present the subject in the context within which it will be utilised by the student, and second to employ the overwhelming learning tool of today, i.e. technology, in their teaching and assessment of the subject.
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