Could COVID-19 Trigger a Rebirth in Anatomy Education? A Glimpse of Anatomists’ Responses to Pandemics of the Past and Present
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Abstract: Pandemics are nothing unusual but indeed lead to devastating effects that play a pivotal role in reshaping human history. The COVID-19 outbreak is currently responsible for major educational crises globally as most of the world has been faced with a mandated lockdown, and forced closure of educational institutions, including medical colleges. Anatomists have therefore been challenged to unlock technology in effort to achieve best deliverables for their discipline, without the use of traditional teaching aids such as the cadaver, osteological banks, prosected specimens, models, and microscopic slides. At present, the virtual classroom is the only option for the anatomist, thereby omitting vital aspects of the hidden curriculum such as ethical-reasoning, empathy, respect, professionalism, interpersonal, and communication skills. As body donations dwindle, the era of teaching in a cadaverless environment is upon us. This marks the beginning of a paradigm shift in education and research for anatomists worldwide. Given the variable pathological-morphological presentation in COVID-19-related deaths, it is also likely that the autopsy component of anatomic pathology will be resuscitated to demystify the underlying mechanisms of the virus. Since COVID-19 may never disappear completely, we would like to recommend that international anatomical societies collectively reach out to statutory bodies to devise a standardized method of teaching anatomy, employing readily available cost-effective resources, in the face of pandemics. However, if anatomy as a discipline has survived a millennium, surely anatomists can fight the “scourges” that have plagued them as various perspectives have been bandied about to welcome in a new normal.