Learn Anatomy and Physiology Before You Need It

Learning anatomy and physiology can be hard under the best conditions.

It’s important as it’s the class giving would-be healthcare students an in-depth understanding of the human body. Year-after-year, it’s one of surest ways colleges weed out students for their programs. The classes have ended many dreams.

Why learn anatomy and physiology?

Beyond healthcare students, basic anatomy and physiology is essential for everyone to learn. Your body is the most important possession you have. You should read and study the owner’s manual. Health advice makes more sense if you understand what’s going on.

After you or a loved one gets sick, it’s nearly impossible. You’re sick, maybe in pain. It’s hard to concentrate.

We’ll all get sick sometime.

Nurses and doctors will tell you that patient teaching can often be one of the most challenging things they do all day. There are all those big words with Latin roots. There’s the question of how it all goes together. The human body is an immense puzzle with many pieces.

Owners’ manuals are dense with text and sometimes-confusing illustrations. Anatomy and physiology textbooks are just like this.

You don’t have to want a job in healthcare. Basic human anatomy and physiology is something handy to understand. It’s about understanding how parts of the body fit together. It’s about understanding how drugs and treatments work on the body. It’s about understanding cause and effect on the body. It’s about getting a handle on the basic role of various minerals, vitamins, and hormones in physiological function.

What are anatomy and physiology?

Anatomy refers to the parts of the body. Physiology refers to the way they work together. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. You’ll hear people often refer to it as A&P. If they’re not referring to the old grocery store, they’re talking about anatomy and physiology – the way the body parts work together. You’ll also hear them talk about physiological function. It’s all connected.

How to get a handle on anatomy and physiology

You can’t learn everything by experience. You can’t just crack open an atlas.

Tackle this subject every day in bite-sized chunks. If you try to go too long on one day you’re going to burn out. Fifteen to 30 minutes spent on understanding physiological function every day is best, especially if you’re doing it to help yourself. Use an atlas; use other tools too.

Don’t cheat yourself. Learn all the body systems. Everything is interrelated. Be organized. Don’t skip around. When it comes to physiological function, everything fits together. That’s how you get the basic atlas of the body in your mind.

Unfortunately, when a nurse or doctor is reviewing something with you, they’re going to take a focused view on teaching you. They have to. That approach will leave gaps in your knowledge and misunderstandings. There’s no time for a semester-long course in anatomy and physiology. Search engines can provide misleading information.

Little-by-little is the best way to do this to get to the basic level. Resist the temptation to skip around.

That serves you best. Sleep disorders affect your whole body. Diabetes affects your whole body. Cancer affects your whole body. When it comes to your body and its physiological functions, nothing is isolated. Head to toe, learn it all.

On top of that, the field keeps changing because of advances in science. For example there is a the main brain in your head but your stomach has come to be known as the “second brain.”

Online anatomy and physiology resources

There are several good free ones.

PBS’ Crash Course on anatomy and physiology has engaging animations. It’s geared toward a basic high school level. It’s enough detail to benefit you when you need it, taking you through all the basic physiological functions one by one.

The Khan Academy also has a whole course on Human Anatomy and Physiology. It covers all of the major points. It has atlas excerpts, videos, and tests where you can check your understanding of basic physiological functions.

Another resource available through many libraries is Universal Class. Its Anatomy and Physiology class is a fairly comprehensive basic course and takes an average of 21 hours to complete. It, too, has references to online anatomical atlases and physiological function.

Some people get antsy when it comes time to watch an educational video. They need something interactive. For them, it’s a good idea to head over to Anatomy Arcade. There, they can play Poke-A-Muscle, do a jigsaw puzzle or play Whack-A-Bone and others about basic physiological function.

Games can only take you so far. Those games can be supplemented by basic outlines of what to know about anatomy and physiology and physiological function. The learner can then research individual terms.

When you’re learning on your own, the key is to stay mentally fresh, approach the material with curiosity, keep it bite-sized, yet stick to the basics.

These sources aren’t meant for professionals. They’re for building a background. Everyone can use the knowledge to improve health. Science is always making discoveries and, in some cases, finding whole new systems.  Our knowledge of physiological function becomes fuller.

Science keeps progressing. Read and watch good news sources to stay up-to-date.

Podcasts are another great source of information, though some are intended for medical and nursing students and not the general public. Physiology by Physeo, Anatomy and Physiology For Students, Lab Rats – Anatomy and Physiology Review are some podcasts to check out on your favorite app.

Anatomy and physiology For professionals

Professionals and would-be professionals need an in-depth background when it comes to anatomy and physiology. Professionals also need to have a spot-on understanding of physiological function.

They have to field tough, probing questions when they’re teaching patients. A comprehensive understanding of anatomy and physiology is essential to doing their job. Rather than a basic focus, they need to have an in-depth understanding of physiological functions.

Further, because everything is interrelated know about physiological function beyond their specialty. They need to review and keep the anatomical atlas fresh in the mind. The only way to explain a complex physiological function is to know it well.

Students are pressed for time and so are working professionals. There are only so many hours available to study in the day.

Professionals need an anatomy and physiology review system. Organized, interactive, and engaging, such a system allows the professional or student to review or learn material fast.

A review system gives the professional or student a different look at the material, complete with memory aids. In addition to the body atlas, it covers pharmacology, epidemiology, and microbiology.

It can help them do their job better, open doors, or go to the next level.

James Cobb, RN, MSN, is an emergency department nurse and the founder of the Dream Recovery System. His goal is to provide his readers with simple, actionable ways to improve their health and maximize their quality of life. 


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