Knowledge of anatomy and physiology is essential for jobs in the medical industry. All the Latin and Greek phrases, with complex prefixes and suffixes, can be challenging even for someone with an incredible memory.
But memorization isn’t the only strategy that works for learning and remembering anatomy and physiology. Here are some tried and true methods that can help you succeed.
- Break the word down. The most important thing to know about these Latin and Greek words is that each part has a meaning. Learning the meaning of the prefix at the beginning of the word or a suffix at the end will help you better understand the word as a whole. For example, learning that the suffix “angio” relates to blood vessels will help you recognize several words.
- Record yourself. Hearing anatomical words out loud will also help you better memorize and understand them. A great trick is to record yourself saying them. Audio clues, beyond simply reading these words on a page, will give you better recall. The initial exercise of recording them will aid in memorization as well.
- Use mnemonic devices. Do you remember the old memory tools you used in elementary school? Like ROYGBIV for colors of the rainbow. Memory tools can help with anatomy and physiology as well.
Connecting the part of the body or the function with the word itself is a great way to understand each part and how they work together. For example, this mnemonic device for the four abdominal muscles:
- T for transversus abdominis
- I for internal abdominal oblique
- R for rectus abdominis
- E for external abdominal oblique
- Rewrite definitions. The words and definitions in anatomy and physiology can be complicated and overly technical. But they don’t have to be. Another tool to learn concepts is to rewrite the definitions in your own words.
This layperson’s language will give you a better grasp on what is being discussed so you can follow along in your own way without getting caught up in the words used.
- Focus on concepts. When learning any new skill, it is always best to focus on the concepts rather than each specific component. For example, if you want to learn how to speak a language, just learning the nouns won’t help you put together sentences. You learn grammar, which is a concept that allows you to speak to someone else.
The same is true for anatomy and physiology. Learn the concepts that will help you understand the whole. For example, physiology is filled with what scientists call “causal mechanisms.” Learning the core ideas behind how the body works can apply to a variety of biological systems.
- Reach out to a study partner. Lastly, even though you may be training entirely online, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a tried and true study method, the study group.
Learning with others is a great way to help facilitate your experience. Reach out to a mentor or someone in the medical profession. Ask them to help you study regularly or when you are faced with a difficult concept to learn.