Is Cadaver Dissection Diminishing in PT Schools?

Purpose/Hypothesis : Cadaver dissection has historically been considered the standard for teaching gross anatomy to healthcare professionals. The increase in technology has led to a wide variety of new teaching resources for gross anatomy. A 1994 Physical Therapy Journal article found that only half of the gross anatomy courses were taught by degreed physical therapists and that 100% of the courses used dissection as a primary method of teaching. Since this survey, the Physical Therapy profession has transitioned from a bachelor degree to a doctoral degree. The purpose of this study was to gather information regarding basic teaching methodology used for the Gross Anatomy course in Physical Therapy schools and to see what factors are influencing teaching pedagogy.Number of Subjects : 72 DPT ProgramsMaterials/Methods : A 42 question survey containing multiple-choice and open ended questions about six subcategories: demographics, four teaching methods and questions about the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) was sent to 204 accredited programs electronically. Data was summarized and compared to data from the 1994 published survey.Results : There was 35% response rate. Data indicate Physical Therapy programs teach gross anatomy predominately using dissection (92.96%) ; a decrease from 100% seen almost 20 years ago (chi-square, p < 0.01). Concurrently, the use of computer-based learning has significantly increased from 18.4% to 56.3% (chi-square, p < 0.01). Combined teaching methodologies are used in 70% of the programs. The instruction from a PT degreed faculty member has decreased, with only 20.5% of current faculty teaching holding a PT degree (chi-square, p < 0.01). As for financing gross anatomy labs, fewer programs believe their budgets will continue to support the rising cost of cadavers (chi-square, p < 0.05) and a majority of programs are sharing lab space with other professional students (chi-square, p <0.05).Conclusions : Although dissection is still the predominant teaching method used in Physical Therapy schools, there is a diminished presence of its use coupled with an increase use of more teaching methods and technology. The importance of Gross Anatomy education in the Physical Therapy Doctoral program and the rising financial cost of cadavers, may make a larger need for a variety of teaching methods.Clinical Relevance : Having research that shows teaching methodology in Physical Therapy schools is important for educators to understand what possible teaching methods are available to programs. Also, seeing changes over time is critical for the Physical Therapy profession as Physical Therapists move to being direct, patient-care practitioners.

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  • Control #: 1726873
  • Type: Poster
  • Event/Year: CSM2014
  • Authors: Elizabeth Reimer, Leslie Day
  • Keywords: Gross Anatomy|Dissection|Education

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