A program that focuses on the scientific study of organ systems, tissue structures, and whole bodies together with their cellular and structural components and dynamics. Includes instruction in cell biology and histology, structural biology, molecular mechanics, regional and gross anatomy, embryology, neuroanatomy, endocrinology and secretory dynamics, and applications to such topics as aging and disease conditions.

Careers in anatomy focus on understanding the physical structure of biological organisms.

Living things tend to be structured in organized ways; things have their place, which determines how they interact. Our knowledge of organs, muscles, bones, and systems stems from a long history of observation and investigative surgery. The roots of anatomy are ancient, and things have changed a lot since the first dissections. We are now able to visualize the individual components of cells, which have their own anatomical systems, as well as other microscopic structures.

It's common for anatomists to specialize in a particular area, such as the skeleton or brain; some focus their work on humans, while others may work with animals, insects, bacteria, or other life forms. Unlike physiologists, anatomists are more concerned with form than function; however, the disciplines are closely connected, and it's typical for specialists in anatomy to have training in a variety of related areas.

Work in anatomy may include...

  • Using specialized techniques and equipment to explore anatomical structures
  • Observing the distinct parts of an organism
  • Identifying organs and their components
  • Preparing biological samples
  • Developing new applications for anatomical knowledge

Most workers with training in anatomy can be found in the medical field, as physicians, surgeons, nurses, or veterinarians. Some teach in universities or work in research labs; anatomical researchers often focus on little-known species of animal in order to better understand how they are built. Some of these discoveries have led to advances in biomemetics from the biotechnology sector, and others have resulted in a deeper understanding of the world around us. A surprising number of expert anatomists work as artists, using their understanding of the body to represent it in a visual medium; sometimes they are called upon to illustrate scientific materials for educational purposes.

Students typically begin learning about anatomy in high school, and sometimes earlier; those who develop an interest in it may pursue biology in college, taking coursework in biochemistry, evolutionary biology, and physiology. Aspiring anatomists need to be comfortable with dissection and develop good lab etiquette, especially when working with microscopes and other standard equipment. Most undergraduate programs allow students to develop these skills, and Bachelor's degree holders can sometimes find applicable work as technicians or lab assistants right out of school. Some students pursue nursing licenses, while others go on to medical school or graduate training in veterinary science or dentistry. Master's degree and PhD programs are ideal for those who want to do research, and some students complete multiple degrees or enroll in dual-degree programs.

Studying how living things are built can lead to a deeper understanding of their history and lifestyle; if you're interested in innards, you may find a fulfilling career involving anatomy.

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