Transfer of anatomy during surgical clerkships: an exploratory study of a student-staff partnership

Int J Med Educ. 2022 Aug 31;13:221-229. doi: 10.5116/ijme.62eb.850a.


Objectives: This qualitative study aims to explore how fourth-year medical students on the surgery course perceived a clinical anatomy workshop organised by near-peer student teachers in partnership with faculty.

Methods: Forty-seven medical students participated in a workshop on clinical anatomy in the dissection laboratory. A voluntary response sampling method was used. The students' perceptions of the workshop were explored through a thematic content analysis of transcribed, semi-structured group interviews and written comments.

Results: A majority of the students had not revisited the dissection laboratory since their second year, and all students described the workshop as a unique opportunity to vertically integrate anatomical knowledge. Four main themes were identified as most valuable for the students' learning experience, namely that the workshop 1) was taught by knowledgeable and friendly near-peer tutors (NPTs), 2) consisted of highly relevant anatomical content, 3) offered a hands-on experience of cadavers in the dissection laboratory, and 4) was taught in a focused session in the middle of the surgery course.

Conclusions: This study shows how hands-on workshops in clinical anatomy, developed in student-staff partnerships and taught by NPTs, can enable senior medical students to recall and vertically integrate anatomical knowledge during surgical clerkships. The results have implications for curriculum design, giving voice to senior students' wishes for spaced repetition and vertical integration of pre-clinical anatomy knowledge during their clinical training. Moreover, this study may inspire other students and faculty to develop similar near-peer teaching activities through student-staff partnerships.

Keywords: clinical anatomy; near-peer learning; student-staff partnership; undergraduate medical education; vertical integration.

MeSH terms

  • Anatomy* / education
  • Curriculum
  • Dissection / education
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate* / methods
  • Humans
  • Peer Group
  • Students, Medical*
  • Teaching