Anatomical Sciences Education Among Biological Anthropology Graduates: a Solution to the Dearth of Anatomy Educators?

Natalie R. Langley, Lauren N. Butaric

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The need for anatomical knowledge is increasingly in demand as new medical and allied-health professions programs continue to open, but there is a growing dearth of educators with formal training in the anatomical sciences. Several sources for anatomy faculty have been suggested, including surgeons, but few have considered a more obvious, alternative approach to this shortage: hiring qualified faculty from other PhD departments/programs whose graduates receive formal training in anatomy, including biological anthropologists. This study surveyed 305 biological anthropology graduates to assimilate information about the nature and extent of training among biological anthropology graduates in the core anatomy disciplines (anatomy, histology, embryology, histology, neuroanatomy), and to determine whether biological anthropology graduates value and apply anatomy training. Only 36% of PhDs reported that anatomy was a required course, but 72% of PhD graduates took an anatomy course (usually gross anatomy with a human cadaveric dissection laboratory). Histology, embryology, and neuroanatomy also were not required to obtain a PhD, though some of this material was covered during the anatomy course, and some students opted to take these courses as electives. Forty-five percent of PhD students reported teaching experience in gross anatomy courses with cadaveric dissection. Ninety-four percent of biological anthropology PhD graduates are prepared to teach human osteology, and 48% are comfortable teaching gross anatomy. Biological anthropology graduates bring unique expertise, training, and research experience to medical education programs, and many are well-suited to fill the growing number of anatomy faculty positions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-137
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Anatomy
  • Biological anthropology
  • Faculty
  • Health sciences education
  • Medical education
  • Physical anthropology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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