School of Medicine and Health Sciences Poster Presentations

Title

Anatomical Knowledge Retention in Changing Curricula

Document Type

Poster

Keywords

Anatomy; Curricula; Surgery; OB/Gyn; Medical Education

Publication Date

4-2017

Abstract

Traditionally anatomy is one of the first subjects taught in medical school. Practicing physicians have commented on medical students’ poor anatomical knowledge in surgically oriented clerkships. Literature also shows that correlating clinical and anatomical sciences throughout early medical education may improve anatomical knowledge retention. With major medical school curricular changes happening across the nation, more quantitative data confirming this correlation is needed.

The medical curriculum at the George Washington University School of Medicine recently underwent reorganization, transforming an earlier discipline-based curriculum to that of an integrated system-based one. In order to determine whether reorganization has an effect on anatomical knowledge retention, comparisons of anatomical knowledge between classes in the different curricula were made. Students from the last class of the discipline-based curriculum and students from the first class of the new, integrated curriculum completed the same 27question test before beginning their general surgery and obstetrics and gynecology (OB/Gyn) rotations. Scores for specific anatomy categories related to general surgery and OB/Gyn were then analyzed and compared between classes.

Comparing the scores from the 2013 and 2016 cohorts, there was an overall decrease in retention from 65.69% to 63.64% (Table 1). Item analysis per topic revealed a mean decrease in surgical anatomy and OB/Gyn anatomy retention of 2.53% and 1.58%, respectively. There was a 21.6% increase in inguinal canal anatomy retention and a 17.33% increase in appendix related questions. There was also a 12.02% decrease in fallopian tube anatomy retention.

In conclusion, when comparing the 2013 to the 2016 data there were overall decreases in retention for the anatomy as it relates to general surgery and OB/Gyn; however improvements were noted for specific topic areas. These results suggest that the change in retention is apparent and multifactorial. The differences between surgical anatomy retention and OB/Gyn anatomy retention scores may be related to the way the subject matter was organized and presented, or how the anatomic foundational knowledge was integrated with its clinical relevance. Although integrative learning has been associated with better retention, more studies will have to be conducted to validate this statement. Finally, analyzing the subject matter, curriculum structure, clinical focus, and objectives should be evaluated moving forward.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Open Access

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Comments

Poster to be presented at GW Annual Research Day 2017.

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Anatomical Knowledge Retention in Changing Curricula

Traditionally anatomy is one of the first subjects taught in medical school. Practicing physicians have commented on medical students’ poor anatomical knowledge in surgically oriented clerkships. Literature also shows that correlating clinical and anatomical sciences throughout early medical education may improve anatomical knowledge retention. With major medical school curricular changes happening across the nation, more quantitative data confirming this correlation is needed.

The medical curriculum at the George Washington University School of Medicine recently underwent reorganization, transforming an earlier discipline-based curriculum to that of an integrated system-based one. In order to determine whether reorganization has an effect on anatomical knowledge retention, comparisons of anatomical knowledge between classes in the different curricula were made. Students from the last class of the discipline-based curriculum and students from the first class of the new, integrated curriculum completed the same 27question test before beginning their general surgery and obstetrics and gynecology (OB/Gyn) rotations. Scores for specific anatomy categories related to general surgery and OB/Gyn were then analyzed and compared between classes.

Comparing the scores from the 2013 and 2016 cohorts, there was an overall decrease in retention from 65.69% to 63.64% (Table 1). Item analysis per topic revealed a mean decrease in surgical anatomy and OB/Gyn anatomy retention of 2.53% and 1.58%, respectively. There was a 21.6% increase in inguinal canal anatomy retention and a 17.33% increase in appendix related questions. There was also a 12.02% decrease in fallopian tube anatomy retention.

In conclusion, when comparing the 2013 to the 2016 data there were overall decreases in retention for the anatomy as it relates to general surgery and OB/Gyn; however improvements were noted for specific topic areas. These results suggest that the change in retention is apparent and multifactorial. The differences between surgical anatomy retention and OB/Gyn anatomy retention scores may be related to the way the subject matter was organized and presented, or how the anatomic foundational knowledge was integrated with its clinical relevance. Although integrative learning has been associated with better retention, more studies will have to be conducted to validate this statement. Finally, analyzing the subject matter, curriculum structure, clinical focus, and objectives should be evaluated moving forward.