A toast to anatomical training

A student-run extra-curricular club is providing first and second year medical students at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, with an opportunity to learn anatomy in a relaxed environment, combining education and recreation. The club is called Surgically Oriented Anatomy Prosectors or SOAP. It’s been so successful, organizers are sharing the idea with others through a paper published in the May/June issue of Anatomical Sciences Education. The student and faculty authors are featured on the journal’s cover.
The popular club takes place during evening hours. Surgeons are invited to demonstrate a surgical procedure on cadavers, highlighting and discussing the relevant anatomy along the way. Then the students break into small groups to review what they’ve been shown, again using cadavers. Anatomy teaching staff, surgeons and surgical residents circulate to answer any questions, whether about the surgical procedure, patient care, or career issues. 
Once the laboratory component is completed and the workspace cleaned, the group heads over to the postgraduate bar on campus to continue the social aspect of the event. SOAP is one of the most popular clubs at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry with 65% of first and second year medical students registered as members. 
The authors on the paper are medical students Shahnoor Ullah, Andrew Bogrogi and Octav Cristea, with professors Marjorie Johnson of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology and Dr. Vivian McAlister of the Department of Surgery.
As the authors explain, medical school curricula in both Canada and the US is changing and becoming very clinically oriented, with fewer hours spent teaching certain core disciplines such as anatomy. Still, its value is perceived as high among medical students and educators. Undergraduate medical education at Schulich Medicine is systems-based, with anatomy embedded within the study of each system. Senior students first identified the need for more time to be devoted to anatomical education, and SOAP grew out of that. 
In a survey of participants, 81% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that SOAP highlighted the importance of anatomy in medical education overall, and that the SOAP session enhanced their appreciation of anatomy in a clinical context.   
Media contact: Kathy Wallis, Media Relations Officer, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, 519-661-2111 ext. 81136, Kathy.wallis@schulich.uwo.ca