Purpose: The purposes of this study were to 1) describe the current teaching methodology used in Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) human gross anatomy (HGA) labs, 2) examine the demographics and perceptions of HGA instructors and compare responses based on years of experience, 3) determine the utilization and instructor perceptions related to cadaver dissection and other methods of instruction, and 4) determine which safety/security protocols are used in HGA laboratories. Method: All DPT programs (N=250) in the United States (US) accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) were eligible to participate. The anonymous, 89-item online survey was completed by either an HGA instructor or DPT program director in March of 2020. Seventy-four individuals responded for a response rate of 29.6%. Results: Respondents represented programs from 65.2% private and 34.8% public institutions. Fifty percent of respondents dedicated 31-60% of their HGA course to face-to-face lab time, with 68% reporting an instructor to student ratio in lab of 1:15 or smaller. Seventy percent of instructors were US licensed PTs, and 78% of those PTs held an academic doctorate. The average years of anatomy teaching experience was 11.3. Ninety-six percent of programs utilized cadavers. Most programs (86%) had students perform hands-on cadaver dissection. Overall, 90% of instructors incorporated learning activities into lab beyond dissection. Ninety-four percent of instructors reported enjoyment teaching HGA, and a majority felt they had adequate teaching support and academic preparation. Sixty percent of respondents felt that cadavers were the only way to teach lab, while 90% felt that cadavers were the best way to teach lab. Regarding safety, 38% of instructors had concerns regarding chemical exposure in lab, and 11% believed their health was at risk. Comparative analyses found significant differences in instructor perceptions based on years of anatomy teaching experience (+/- 10 years). Less experienced faculty were more likely to believe that a non-cadaver approach to teaching HGA can be as effective as using cadavers given the right technology, while more experienced faculty were more likely to believe that teaching HGA with cadavers was the best way to teach lab. Conclusions: DPT program directors and instructors may find this study valuable to compare their HGA course(s) to other programs in the US. Although there is a clear preference for including cadavers in HGA laboratories, it is evident that most instructors are incorporating other learning approaches in their HGA laboratories.
Mitchell K, Bickley C, Leis A, Tsang A. A Survey of Human Gross Anatomy Laboratories in DPT Programs across the United States. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. 2022 Mar 31;20(2), Article 18.