10 Tips for Studying Anatomy during COVID

how to learn human anatomy medical school nursing student physiotherapy Dec 20, 2020

When I went to medical school I was excited but I was also anxious about many things such as

– Would I like it?

- Would I make any friends?

- Would I find it to difficult?

- Is this the right course for me?

Sometimes those feelings were overwhelming. I found studying anatomy particularly hard as there were hundreds of new words and structures to learn and remember. And this was during the ‘good times’ when I could meet other students and go into class for lectures for support.

I can only imagine how much harder it must be to study during COVID, where in some countries, social distancing and lock down restrictions are still in place. A lot of universities have had to restrict their teaching facilities due to COVID and for a lot of students this means distance learning. That can be lonely and demoralising. Keeping a check of your mental health is so important and over the next year I will be writing a lot more about that.

But in this blog and accompanying video, I want to share 10 really helpful tips on how to approach studying anatomy during COVID lockdowns.

  1. Be very clear about your goal. This one is very important as it sets the scene for everything else that you do. Take some time to write out your long-term goal and put it somewhere that you can easily see it every day as this will keep you motivated.
  2. Plan out each day otherwise it will be very easy to spend the whole day in pyjamas watching Netflix. Make sure that you have regular reminders during the day to check your schedule otherwise before you know it another day will be over.
  3. Take regular study breaks where you do something active, even if it just standing up and doing a few stretches or jumping up and down on the spot. You do not need a gym or to spend too long on it, but just move! Sitting for too long will just give you back ache and you’ll get de-motivated. You will learn much more efficiently with regular breaks. I used to have dance breaks when I was studying, as the music always cheered me up.
  4. Map out a term timetable. With regards to actual anatomy content, the first thing to do is get your timetable and figure out what subjects you will covering this year. Ideally have a calendar and place it somewhere so that you can see it at a glance, which subject will be covered and when. Try and keep up with this schedule and do not get too far behind. If you skip a day or two, you might be able to get away with it, but if you skip a whole week, you are going to have to work so much harder to catch up – I know from personal experience. Don’t do what I did, which was mess about, be totally disorganised, fail, and then I had to retake my exams, which ruined my summer holidays.
  5. Watch a tutorial. At the start of each week, watch a tutorial on the subject you are going to cover that week so that you get ahead of the game. This way, when you watch your university tutors deliver their lectures on it you will already know what they are talking about. I would watch the video the whole way through without stopping – unless you lose concentration, then by all means rewind to where you dropped off, but do not get bogged down in the detail. If you watch a tutorial that has pictures as part of the presentation - this is even better as you can visualise the structures that are being described.
  6. Look at Pictures. Use an atlas, or if you have access go to a 3D program, look at the structures that have just been discussed. Look at the location of the structure and look at the relationships to other structures – again do not get stuck on the detail. If you are on a computer program try and view the structure from all angles as this help you to remember where it is. An atlas is great because you can see cadaveric pictures which is the most realistic for the human body. 
  7.  Make Notes. Next, I would watch the video again, but this time make notes as you go. Do not just transcribe the commentary word for word, instead make abbreviated notes and get used to the words. If you are using The Funky Professor for your studies, we have worksheets for each topic to help you make start making notes.
  8. Watch a revision video to consolidate the topic. Stop and start the video so you really get a chance to focus in on the details. At The Funky Professor we have revision slides that are narrated and you can also download them so you can click through at your own pace. Take a look and try out all our resources for free by clicking the link below.
  9. Work with Friends. This is a really important step and for me it definitely made the difference between failure and success. I would highly recommend working with some friends to try and see how much you have understood. Now I understand that there may be restrictions in place so that you are not allowed to see people face to face, but you can do this online – but that’s ok, just try and form a study group of about 5-6 people. More than that can be harder on line.   Don’t just recite facts to each other. Instead, turn it into a game, for example you could give each other clues for a structure and the other person has to guess the structure, or you could prepare 4 or 5 questions on a topic and test each other. If you want some inspiration take a look at one of our Funky Friday Quizzes. The format of the game does not really matter too much, just get chatting because this way you will get used to saying the words and you will also get to know your anatomy better. If you make it into a game then it will become fun and as you may know at The Funky Professor we strongly believe that fun is the key to learning, which is why we called it Funky in the first place!
  10. Write a Have Done List. A lot of students are really good at writing ‘to do’ lists but this tip is so important to keep your spirits up. At the end of each day write a list of all the things that you have achieved or have learnt that day. Make this your ‘have Done’ list. As you see that list getting longer it will be a real sense of achievement. Take pride in what you have done rather than beating yourself up about what you haven’t done.

Positive Mindset

I think the biggest struggle during COVID will be keeping up a positive mindset and maintaining motivation. Don’t let COVID isolate you completely, it is important to have regular contact with other students and keep each other supported.

Take a look at our instagram feed @funkyanatomy for daily new content, and my blog where I give you lots more strategies to help you learn more efficiently. Register for our Free Package where you can access our resources to try them or simply sign up to our Ultimate Funky Anatomy Package to access everything straightaway.

Take part in our weekly Funky Friday Quizzes to test your knowledge, they are short and cover a whole range of topics and I give mini tutorials when I go through the answers, so it’s another great way of learning anatomy.

I hope this has been helpful, please let me know leave a comment below.

Sending you lots of virtual hugs and best wishes – Stay Safe and Stay Funky.

Dr Susan xx