Needs assessment of essential anatomy: The perspective of adult primary care resident physicians

Mark H. Hankin, Derek J. Harmon, James R. Martindale, Iuliana Niculescu, Adrienne Aschmetat, Amy N. Mertens, Rachel E. Hanke, Andrew S. Koo, Anthony E. Kraus, James A. Payne, Michael J. Feldman, Enrique Soltero Mariscal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Curricular development and modification involve first identifying a problem and then performing a needs assessment, which can guide the design of curricular components. Pedagogical changes, coupled with reductions in curricular time for gross anatomy, pose challenges and impose restrictions within medical school curricula. In order to make anatomy education effective and efficient, it is important to determine the anatomy considered essential for medical education through a targeted needs assessment. In this study, 50 adult primary care resident physicians in family medicine (FM) and internal medicine (IM) were surveyed to assess the importance of 907 anatomical structures, or groups of structures, across all anatomical regions from a curated list based on the boldface terms in four primary anatomy texts. There were no statistically significant differences in the ratings of structures between the two groups for any anatomical region. In total, 17.0% of structures, or groups of structures, were classified as essential, 58.0% as more important, 24.4% as less important, and 0.7% as not important. FM residents rated tissues classified as skeleton, nerves, fasciae, anatomical spaces, blood vessels, lymphatics, and surface anatomy (p < 0.0001) significantly higher than IM residents, but there were no differences in the rating of muscles or organs (p > 0.0056). It was notable that 100.0% of cranial nerves were classified as essential, and 94.5% of surface anatomy structures were classified as essential or more important. It is proposed that results of this study can serve to inform curricular development and revision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)504-520
Number of pages17
JournalAnatomical Sciences Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2023


  • anatomy education
  • curriculum development
  • family medicine
  • internal medicine
  • medical curriculum
  • medical education
  • undergraduate medical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Embryology


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