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Medical students' perception on anatomy knowledge relevance and retention during clerkship

Nihal Mohamed Nabil, Najwa Al-Mously, Shahad AlWathnani, Asrar Abduldaiem, Hadeel Al-Issa.

Abstract
Introduction: Sufficient knowledge of anatomy is crucial for safe and efficient clinical practice. The majority
of students in the traditional, non-problem based learning curricula found anatomy taught to them in the
preclinical phase irrelevant to their clinical practice. Aim: This is a cross-sectional study aiming to investigate
senior medical students' perception on anatomy taught in our hybrid problem based learning curriculum, and
to measure anatomy knowledge retention during clerkship. Methods: A self-administered questionnaire and
10 validated multiple choice questions were used. 131 students from the 5th year and 6th years were included.
Results: Around half of the students in each cohort appreciate the importance of knowing detailed contents
of anatomy subject for the effective treatment of most medical problems. Two thirds believe that knowledge
of anatomy is the most important to be a good physician, and its application to clinical practice should be
reinforced early in medical education. However, two thirds have reported that anatomy knowledge fades away
by the time they reach the clinical phase. This was supported by the results of the anatomy exam questions
where the mean of the grades was 3.81 and 3.15 out of 10 among the 5th year and 6th years respectively.
There was no significant difference between the two cohorts (P > 0.05), however, grades of female students
were significantly higher (P < 0.05). Conclusion: Senior medical students appreciate the importance and
relevance of anatomy knowledge received in our hybrid problem based learning curriculum to their clinical
practice. However, there is considerable loss in anatomy knowledge during clerkship. We recommend vertical
integration of anatomy from the first year through the clerkship and into specialist training, to improve clinically
relevant anatomical knowledge retention. Tailored anatomy courses which are relevant to different specialities,
could be conducted during clerkship to enhance more integration between basic and clinical fields.

Key words: Anatomy teaching, knowledge retention, medical clerkship, students’ perception



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