Needs Assessment of Essential Anatomy - A Perspective from Primary Care Residents

Derek J. Harmon, Mark H. Hankin, James Martindale, Iuliana Niculescu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


INTRODUCTION: . Curricular development begins with identifying a problem, followed by a need assessment of the curricular components. Changes in pedagogical approaches and reductions in curricular time for gross anatomy have been identified as a problem. The objective of this study was to conduct a needs assessment of the most essential anatomy from the perspective of primary care residents. METHODS: . Primary care residents in Family Medicine (FamMed) and General Internal Medicine (IntMed) at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine were recruited for the study. A survey assessed the clinical importance of 907 specific anatomical structures from all anatomical regions on a 1-4 Likert-scale (1= "not important and 4 = "essential"). The structures were selected from the bold terms in Gray's Anatomy for Students, Clinically Oriented Anatomy, and Grant's Dissector. In the analyses, all 3 and 4 ratings for each structure were summed and divided by the total number of respondents. A structure rated as a 3 or 4 by ≥75.0% of respondents was classified as "essential", 50.0-74.9% "more important", 25.0-49.9% "less important", and 0.0-24.9% "not important". Kruskal-Wallis analyses were conducted to assess differences between the two residency groups for each region. RESULTS: . Fifty adult primary care residents in FamMed and IntMed completed the survey. In total, 16.7% of structures were classified as essential, 58.9% more important, 24.3% less important, and 0.7% not important. FamMed rated structures categorized as skeleton, nerves, fasciae, anatomical spaces, blood vessels, lymphatics and surface anatomy (p<0.0001), and muscles (p=0.002) significantly higher than IntMed, but there was no significant difference in organs (p=0.012). It was notable that 100.0% of cranial nerves were classified as essential, and 94.5% of surface anatomy structures were classified as essential or more important. There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups of residents for any of the anatomical regions. CONCLUSION: . Conducting a needs assessment is a crucial early step in curricular development. This is the first study to conduct a needs assessment of anatomy curricular content solely from the perspective of primary care clinicians. Surface anatomy was an area with nearly all structures rated as essential or more important, which reinforces the importance of including surface anatomy in pre-clinical gross anatomy education. SIGNIFICANCE: . The data from this study provides insight into how clinicians rated specific anatomical structures. Due to the broad variation in medical curricula, the authors suggest that the classifications of importance by these clinicians can serve as a curricular roadmap by anatomy educators for the evaluation, revision, or development of curricula with regard to gross anatomy education in the context of reduced contact hours, new pedagogies, and vertical integration.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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