24 Jun 2011

Medical student survey reveals anatomy knowledge gap

9:23 am on 24 June 2011

A survey of senior medical students at Otago University has raised concern about their knowledge of basic anatomy.

Otago University set out to see whether a major reduction in emphasis on anatomy in medical school curricula worldwide has had an effect at Otago.

The study was carried out at the Otago University Medical School and revealed that as many as 15% of sixth-year medical students failed to reach the minimum standard in a test of clinical anatomy.

Senior doctors say changes to medical education will be needed as a result of the findings, published on Friday in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

One of the researchers, Anatomy Professor Mark Stringer, says the survey questions weren't unduly difficult, and it's essential for doctors to have a sound knowledge of anatomy if they're to practise safely and effectively.

Professor Stringer says changes are needed to ensure anatomy is present in appropriate ways in the senior students' studies, as a refresher.

That's backed by the country's other medical school, in Auckland, which says similar changes are needed and are under way.