Flexible, short-duration outreach sessions in the human anatomy laboratory provide authentic, humanistic experiences

Aidan A. Ruth, Allison Nesbitt, Laura E. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Anatomy laboratories can provide rich opportunities for outreach to K-12 and college students interested in pursuing careers in health, medicine, or science. At the University of Missouri, the Department of Pathology and Anatomical Sciences has designed flexible, one-hour interactive sessions that typically cover basic anatomical concepts using whole-body donors. In order to evaluate whether short-duration programs were impactful in increasing enthusiasm for anatomy and the health professions sciences, we used mixed methods to study participant experience covering three topics: (1) enthusiasm for anatomy, (2) interest in pursuing a career in healthcare professions, and (3) perception of the importance of whole-body donation. The same questions were asked pre- and post-session, and the post-session survey had additional questions related to student satisfaction. Quantitative analyses showed an increased interest in anatomy and appreciation for whole-body donation following the session. Students also perceived that they had a better understanding of the body and what it would be like to attend a health professions school. Thematic analysis revealed an appreciation for contextualizing the size, position, and hands-on feel of anatomical structures, and emphasized that students felt that they understood the body better after having seen a donor's anatomy. This work shows that short-duration, flexible outreach sessions involving whole-body donors can provide students with a rare opportunity to confirm their contextual understanding of anatomy, and provide students with an authentic, and humanistic experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-290
Number of pages11
JournalAnatomical Sciences Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • STEM outreach
  • anatomy outreach
  • educational outreach programs
  • gross anatomy education
  • health professions education
  • whole-body donation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Embryology


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