Anatomy is one of the most difficult subjects for any medical student. As difficult and stressful it may be, there are some things that can help with this class. Here is a list of nine such tips:
- Figure out a study method that works best for you quickly. Some say that anatomy is like learning a completely new language. There is some truth in that as you are learning new terms and words. That, along with the fast pace of the class, makes it difficult. To survive, make sure you find a study method that works for you both in terms of retention of knowledge and in terms of time efficiency.
- Study every day. This goes without saying, given the vast amount of material you will need to know. A technique that works well is studying the day's lecture, reviewing yesterday's lecture, and previewing tomorrow's lecture every day. This will allow you to see the material three times within a relatively short period of time.
- Learn body parts in relationship to other body parts in your cadaver. In many ways, anatomy is like studying and learning a map. If you are looking at say, a map of New York City, you wouldn't try to memorize the location of every major destination independently. Instead you would find Times Square and then see what major landmarks are around Time Square and go from there.
Likewise, don't try to independently memorize everything. Figure out relationships such as understanding what blood vessels travel on top of what muscles and what blood vessels travel underneath it.
- Study hard but don't burn out. This class is a long distance run, not a sprint. If you are feeling discouraged, keep pressing on. Try to find tutors if you are struggling or change up your studying methods. If you are feeling depressed, talk to somebody.
- Mnemonics help a lot. They will help you recall orders of certain things and such. There are websites devoted to these mnemonics. You can also make up your own ones. Don't feel embarrassed even if it is corny; those are the ones you will usually remember best!
- Study with other people. You will find that they may help you know things you don't or hadn't thought about (and vice versa).
- Don't get bogged down in the details. There will be a lot of material. Figure out what is needed minimally to do well in the class and make sure you know that down cold first.
- If you have a bone box or a cadaver, make sure you use that to your advantage. Seeing things in 3D really help with one's understanding and visualization of the body. Textbook pictures are helpful but sometimes do not do the body justice.
- Buy an anatomy atlas (or two). I prefer and highly recommend Netter's Anatomy for the pictures. I also like the Rohen anatomy book because it shows actual photographs of actual cadavers (very helpful if you need to identify structures in your cadaver as part of an exam).
Best of luck in your anatomy class!