NOMENs land: The place of eponyms in the anatomy classroom

Anat Sci Educ. 2021 Jun 18. doi: 10.1002/ase.2108. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

The law of Non-Original Malappropriate Eponymous Nomenclature (NOMEN) states that no phenomenon is named after its discoverer. However, eponymous terms are rife in the anatomical and medical literature. In this viewpoint commentary, the authors discuss the history of anatomical eponyms, explain the additional cognitive load imposed by eponyms that can negatively impact student learning and explore the view that eponyms are "pale, male and stale" in the socially conscious 21st century. The authors probe two of the most common arguments used to keep eponyms in anatomy education: (1) clinicians use them because they are easy, and (2) eponyms remind us of anatomy's history. Educators, clinicians and students need to work together to progress this movement and bring a modern lens to this discussion. Based on the arguments presented in this commentary, the authors propose that eponyms should be removed from anatomy curricula, textbooks and have no place in the anatomy classroom.

Keywords: gross anatomy education; history of anatomy; medical education anatomical nomenclature; terminologia anatomica eponyms.