Embryology - Looking to hear about other schools' approaches

Hey all,

I’m an MS2 at SUNY Downstate and am working with one of our faculty to improve our embryology curriculum. I’m hoping to learn more about how embryology material is handled at other programs, and I’d love your input!

I’d especially like to know what you do or don’t like about how embryo is taught at your school, what textbook your school uses, and what other external or internal resources you rely on. I also welcome any other general thoughts, ideas, etc. about your experience learning embryology.

Thanks, and hope to hear from some of you!

My curriculum had embryology embedded with our MS1 anatomy course. It was incorporated into lectures and stuff, but we didn’t really have a dedicated embryology book or course. We have about 1.5 years of systems-based courses, which again rehashed the embryology as it pertained to pathophysiology.

While going through anatomy, I thought embryology was the worst thing ever. I used a lot of external resources to get a better grasp/understanding of how things were and ended up learning it fairly well. Having it reiterated during systems was great and made learning it the hard way during anatomy worthwhile. It is especially paying off right now during my pediatric surgery rotation…

I’m not sure there is a great way to teach embryology. It’s a pretty painstaking subject that doesn’t really fit great anywhere. Learning it without pathophysiology to make things understandable was painful. I can imagine that learning it for the first time while discussing systems pathophysiology would also be painful. Repetition is really the only way I could get it to stick.

My experience is similar to Kennymac’s. We had embryology embedded in our MS1 anatomy course (which lasted one semester). It was a pain in the ass to learn then, but having some knowledge of embryology is critical to the understanding of certain diseases. We did get a rehash of certain elements during year 2, which focused on pathophysiology.

For me the biggest problem with embryology was visualization. It’s really tough to understand the changes that occur during the first few weeks of development, without a good idea of what it looks like. I feel like I really need to see something in terms of anatomy in order to understand it, and I feel that was the biggest part that was lacking from our course. I never did find a great resource, but I can probably share a few things that would help. If you’re working on revision of the curriculum, I would strongly suggest trying to find some sort of 3D visualization of the embryo (in particular) as it develops through the early stages of growth. I would also suggest spending some time focusing on individual systems, how those systems develop, and the pathophysiology that can be related due to aberrant development of those systems.