Anatomy Journal of Africa

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Maintaining excellence in teaching of human anatomy: University of Nairobi experience

J Ogeng’o, K Ongeti, M Misiani, B Olabu


Experience in maintaining excellence in teaching of human anatomy is important in informing strategies to mitigate worldwide decline in the level of knowledge of human anatomy among medical students and qualifying doctors. Factors responsible for the decline include reduction in teaching time, inadequate teachers and undermining of cadaver dissection. Measures to address these challenges have resulted in wide disparities in curriculum design teaching methods, number and composition of instructors. Inspite of the challenges, the Department of Human Anatomy of the University of Nairobi (UON) maintained excellence of teaching for over 40yrs. This article describes the teaching of anatomy at the UON with a view of elucidating the learning points from which other departments can learn. Analysis reveals that human anatomy is allocated 630hrs per year of which 350hrs are allocated to gross anatomy with 270hrs devoted to dissection. Although dissection has remained the cornerstone of instruction, it is combined with clinically oriented problem based instruction, use of prosections, diagnostic imaging, computer aided and small group learning. Teaching of gross anatomy is integrated with microscopic, developmental and neuroanatomy. The department runs and intercalated Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) anatomy degree which is a reliable source of members of staff. Over 70% of the staff are surgeons. They are assisted by demonstrators drawn from trainee surgeons and young B.Sc. Anatomy graduates. Excellence in teaching anatomy can be maintained by reclaiming sufficient teaching time, combined dissection with contemporary methods of instruction, integrating gross, microscopic, developmental anatomy, neuroanatomy, involvement of clinicians in teaching, commencing training anatomy early and engagement of demonstrators.

Keywords: Anatomy teaching, University of Nairobi



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