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Anatomy Lab

by Mar 15, 2019

When I was originally looking at naturopathic medicine programs, I was shocked to learn that some schools don’t do dissections in a gross anatomy lab, yet over the last year, I have come to really appreciate my time there. Arguably, I am appreciating it a little more lately as my time in there is almost complete. I have four weeks left of dissecting, and I can honestly say I am going to really miss it.


Meet my Anatomy Lab Group…that’s me, third from the left!

A common question I am asked is, “What is needed for anatomy lab?” So, I am going to outline some of the required and recommended items. Absolutely required for anatomy lab is a set of scrubs (preferably ones you aren’t super attached to, as you will unlikely want to wear them anywhere but the lab), and a lab coat. The anatomy lab will have a sale of used scrubs the first week of the trimester. They are all dry cleaned, and it is a great deal! You will also want an old pair of shoes that you will only wear in the anatomy lab. Make sure they are comfortable, as you will do a lot of standing.

Each lab group will also be required to have a couple dissecting kits. The lab also sells these during the first week, and that is where I would recommend purchasing it. They will include all the tools you really need and will use the most, whereas some of the kits available online are incomplete. You will also need some large and small blades, but I also recommend finding someone to buy some of these from. We have barely made a dent in our box of 100 blades!

You will also need LOTS of gloves! I always double glove, so that the smell doesn’t get into my hands. My lab groups have always just shared boxes of gloves and would take turns purchasing them. 

If you are concerned about the smell in the lab, the mask I wear works really well, click here.  I am able to change the filters, and the best part is that my lab group can still understand what I am saying. The problem with some of the bigger masks is that you can’t talk as well with them. My group likes to talk and quiz each other during lab, so it was very important to me that I still am able to speak and have them understand me.

You need at least one atlas to study from at home. You will also need an anatomy atlas in the lab, but don’t buy one for that…the lab has plenty of atlases to use. Once an atlas is in the lab, you won’t want to use it anywhere outside of the lab. Below are the atlases that the school recommends, and I will include my analysis on each of them. 


My top recommended atlas is the one by Rohen. It has labeled photographs from dissected cadavers. The pictures don’t always match exactly what you will see, as these photos are pristine, and perfectly dissected; however, it is helpful to look at something that looks similar to what you will be identifying in lab.

My next favorite atlas is definitely Netter. It has everything hand drawn, and it a very useful resource. I probably use my Rohen and Netter more than any other textbooks I own!

These next three atlases are ones I don’t use very often. I found the Thieme atlas helpful during first trimester, but only for the purposes of adding diversity. I still prefer my Netter and Rohen.  I found the Grant’s atlas very useful for second trimester in Head & Neck anatomy, primarily because our professor used lots of the images from that atlas in her slides. I have personally never found the Clemente atlas helpful. (I have heard some students appreciate the simplicity of it, but Dr. Joseph will call out the inaccuracy in that atlas in practically every lecture, so I do not recommend it).

Last, the Moore book is a “required” reading text. It is different from an atlas which is mostly just images. The Moore book, is like reading a traditional textbook. I have found it to be very helpful, but most students do very well without ever opening it.

I hope that you will find this helpful if you are anatomy lab bound!

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About the Author

Belinda Smith

Belinda Smith

My name is Belinda, but I prefer to go by Lindy. I am in my final year as a Naturopathic Medical student at National University of Health Sciences. I’m originally from Maryland and will always consider it to be my home. I live on campus, in the Bucholz building with my dog, Lily. I love the sport of triathlon and will totally geek out if anyone wants to talk bikes or racing with me! I’m looking forward to blogging about study tips, ways to have fun on campus, and all the details of a full-time medical student. I love talking with people, so if you have any questions please email me at [email protected]


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