Section of Anatomy Education

A community of educators

The Section of Anatomy Education within the Department of Cell and Molecular Medicine is a community of educators who teach the anatomical sciences (gross anatomy, histology, embryology, and neuroscience). The Section of Anatomy Education meet monthly for faculty development, to plan for current/upcoming courses/programs, and to discuss hot topics in the field of anatomical sciences education. Faculty educators within this section teach a variety of student populations across all four Rush University colleges (Rush Medical College, College of Nursing, College of Health Sciences, and Graduate College). The majority of gross anatomy teaching occurs within the Human Anatomy Laboratory.

Teaching responsibilities

For information about the teaching services offered through the Section of Anatomy Education, please contact the section director, Adam Wilson, PhD (adam_wilson@rush.edu) to learn more.

College of Health Sciences

College of Health Sciences

Course Number Course Title Term Credits
AUD 602 Anatomy and Physiology of the Auditory System Fall 1
HSC 360 (Undergraduate) Human Anatomy with Lab Fall 4
OCC 504L Occupational Therapy Functional Anatomy with Lab Fall 2
PHA 511 Human Anatomy for Physician Assistants Summer 5
SLP 537L (Speech Language Pathology) Anatomy Lab Fall 1
College of Nursing

College of Nursing

Course Number Course Title Term Credits
ANA 500 Neuroscience for Basic and Clinical Applications Fall 2
NSG 525L Health Assessment Across the Lifespan (Anatomy Lab) Fall & Spring NA
FNP Program Family Nurse Practitioner Program Spring NA
Graduate College

Graduate College*

Course Number Course Title Term Credits
BMC 506 Human Movement and Kinematics Spring 1
GCC 650 Neuroscience for Basic and Clinical Applications Fall 2

*Anatomy education section faculty also teach advanced topics courses with the graduate college.

Rush Medical College

Rush Medical College

Course Number Course Title Term Credits
RMD 560 Foundations of Medical Practice Fall NA
RMD 561 Host Defense and Host Response Fall NA
RMD 563 Food to Fuel Spring NA
RMD 564 Movement and Mechanics Spring NA
RMD 565 Brain, Behavior, and Cognition Summer NA
RMD 566 Sexuality and Reproduction Fall NA
RMD 567 Growth, Development, and Life Cycle Fall NA
RMD 568 Hematology and Oncology Fall NA
RMD 569 Complex Cases and Transition to Clerkships Spring NA
RMD 574 Vital Fluids Fall NA
RMD 575 Vital Gases Spring NA

Educational research/Scholarship

Featured research

Anatomical Sciences Education recently published an article entitled “A Look at the Anatomy Educator Job Market: Anatomists Remain in Short Supply”, which was also discussed by Brooks in the newly released Anatomy Education Podcast #76.

Reports of shortages of anatomists have been circulating for many years with a spike in activity in the early 2000’s after a study published in Academic Medicine indicated that department chairs expected moderate to great difficulty recruiting anatomists over the next five years. In collaboration with the AAA, we sought to determine if that shortage still existed in the U.S./Canada and explored whether or not it extended into Europe.

A shortage of anatomists does in fact still exist within both the U.S./Canada and European nations. When we juxtaposed typical faculty turnover rates, which are estimated to be between 8-12% annually, against our projected shortage rates, the long suspected notion of a perceived shortage materialized as a quantitatively defensible shortage.

Most departmental leaders still anticipate moderate to great difficulty recruiting faculty to teach gross anatomy, histology, and embryology over the next five years, and European leaders are expecting a five-fold increase in the number of new faculty positions in the anatomical sciences over the same timeframe.

The current and projected short supply of anatomists likely stems from a combination of factors. Fewer anatomists are being trained through traditional anatomy graduate programs. For example, the National Science Foundation reports that between 2014 and 2017 only 17 doctoral degrees in anatomy have been awarded on average each year. Furthermore, health science programs, which have historically been reliant on the anatomical sciences, are expanding at a staggering rate (e.g., 65 new PA programs alone have been established over the past 5 years). With the demand for anatomy instruction on the rise and a scarce educator pipeline, maintaining and keeping pace with enough supply of anatomy educators may be the most challenging it has ever been.

To better inform job applicants and anatomy training programs, we asked departmental leaders and search committees to identify the training and experiences they look for in faculty candidates. The most common responses were: (1) teaching experience, (2) versatility in teaching more than one anatomical science discipline, (3) versatility in pedagogies, and (4) publication record. Job applicants with a Ph.D. in Anatomical Sciences Education or a basic science discipline are preferred over those with clinical doctorates or other degrees.

To help ensure progress towards replenishing the supply of educators, we make four recommendations:

  1. Increase the number of graduate and postdoctoral training programs in the anatomical sciences and/or the number of matriculants in these programs.
  2. Establish a profession-wide infrastructure, a ‘community of practice’ if you will, to foster collaborative mentoring and to more freely share valuable resources (e.g., faculty expertise) among training programs.
  3. Raise awareness of anatomy education as a profession, especially in light of many anatomy departments being absorbed into broader basic science and medical education departments where ‘anatomy’ is absent from the departmental name.
  4. Establish regular, systematic monitoring of the anatomy educator job market and the faculty pipeline so the profession can more accurately assess needs, monitor trends, and anticipate projected shortcomings.

Given the current landscape, it is imperative that stakeholders (including anatomical sciences educators, administrators, and professional societies) come together as a community to work toward remedying this shortage. To continue this conversation and to contribute your own ideas on how to ensure the continued growth and ‘health’ of the anatomy education profession, we encourage you to comment on Twitter with #AnatomistShortage.

Citation: Wilson, AB and Brooks, WS. Shortage of Anatomists. Anatomy Now - The Official Newsletter of the American Association of Anatomists. June 2019.

Ed-PRIME

Monthly faculty of the anatomy education section also partake in Ed-PRIME (Educators Pursuing Research in Medical Education). The Ed-PRIME group is comprised of administrators, course directors, and education minded faculty with a collective interest in medical education research. During Ed-PRIME meetings, journal club articles are shared, project ideas are developed, and research presentations are practiced.

National organization involvement

  • American Association for Anatomy
  • American Association of Clinical Anatomists
  • International Association of Medical Science Educators
  • Central Group of Educational Affairs of the AAMC

Section faculty

Faculty Area of Teaching Concentration
Kristin Al-Ghoul, PhD Histology
Christopher Ferrigno, PhD Gross Anatomy, Neuroanatomy, Kinesiology
Robert Leven, PhD Gross Anatomy
Jeff Nelson, MD Gross Anatomy
Joanne O’Keefe, PhD Neuroanatomy
Amarjit Virdi, PhD Histology
James M. Williams, PhD Gross Anatomy

Adam B. Wilson, PhD
Director of Anatomy Education

Gross Anatomy
Brittany Wilson, PhD Gross Anatomy


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