Opening a new medical school and introducing an anatomy course is a rare opportunity for medical anatomy educators. Here we sum our experience in an ongoing 10-year anatomy program, emphasizing the challenges we endured, the hardships and successes in the hope that others can learn from our experience. In February 2010, Bar Ilan University was chosen by the Israeli Council for Higher Education to open a new, fifth, medical faculty. A mere eight months later, the school opened its gates to a class of 70 students in the northern city of Safed. This new faculty, dedicated to establishing connections to the local community, enabled us to develop and implement a new anatomy curriculum. The basic course incorporated frontal lectures, dissection labs, basic systematic physiology, clinical correlation lectures and imaging labs. The initial curriculum included trunk and Head & neck regions spanning 5 weeks. After the first couple of years, the length and contents of the course started to change and adapt according to the needs of our faculty, and by input from physicians as well as students. Over the years student number rose to 100, and the course expanded to 10 weeks to incorporate the entire body aside from neuroanatomy, which is taught in a separate course. Histology and embryology were included; ultrasound hands-on labs were added; and virtual anatomy sessions were integrated to the program. Clinical and physiological correlate lectures were cut down, with the understating, backed by students' evaluations, that this was too early for them, and focus should remain on basic normal anatomy. On the other hand, more time was added to imaging sessions and lectures, as most modern physicians use these techniques in their everyday clinical practice. While originally relaying on retired physicians to serve as dissection instructors, we initialed a near-peer students dissection instructors' program that was met with great success. In the last couple of years our program and indeed the entire medical school was heavily impacted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. While lectures were taken to virtual platform, we decided to continue dissection sessions as normally as possible, with strict mandatory regulations including personal protective gear and keeping students' number within the lab to a minimum of 15, 7-8 students per cadaver. Students were highly appreciative of our efforts, and course scoring was exceptionally high. The last 10 years has shown us that anatomy, a basic and important tradition, could be taught in many exceptional ways, and we should always strive to improve. But perhaps even more important is the understating that we are educators to whom our students look up to, and endurance, perseverance, resourcefulness, and professionalism are just as important as scholastic knowledge.Copyright © FASEB.
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