Beyond the classroom: Inspiring medical and health science students to learn surface anatomy

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This qualitative and quantitative study offered students the opportunity to participate in engaging and inspiring activities “outside the classroom”, to extend their experience and knowledge of surface anatomy. Medical and health science students benefit from studying surface anatomy as it is relevant to their future professions that deal with patients and clients. Surface anatomy is an essential part of the learning process that allows students an opportunity to identify anatomical structures on living people and to develop their palpation and tactile skills for physical examinations of patients. Body painting is a student-centred, engaging, and motivating approach to learn surface anatomy in anatomy practical classes. In this study, anatomy learning was extended “beyond the classroom” through extra-curricular body painting projects. These projects were run by student teams consisting of a student model, student artists (4–5), and a student photographer, under the direction of the chief investigator. A total of sixteen body painting projects were carried out from 2010 to show the skeletal system, the muscular system, pregnancy, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, and the neurovascular systems of the entire body. A SurveyMonkey of 31/41 active participants suggested that participants enjoyed the projects (94–100%), found them relevant to their future profession (80–87%), and considered them to assist with deeper understanding (94%) and long-term memory (93%) of anatomy. Learning anatomy outside the classroom through extra-curricular body painting projects was a successful way to engage, motivate, and inspire participants and first year anatomy students to study surface anatomy and to develop their physical examination skills.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-370
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number2
Early online date21 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


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