Difficulties and innovations in teaching anatomy and physiology in nursing

Miho Satoh, Akiko Fujimura, Shoko Miyagawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: This study aimed to clarify the difficulties and innovations in anatomy and physiology education from the perspective of faculty members in charge of anatomy and physiology education in Japanese nursing universities. Background: Many nursing students have difficulty acquiring anatomy and physiology knowledge and applying it in clinical situations; therefore, effective teaching and learning methods for anatomy and physiology must be provided in nursing education. Design: This study followed a cross-sectional observational design using a web-based self-administered questionnaire. Methods: A web-based self-administered open-ended survey regarding the difficulties and innovations in teaching anatomy and physiology in nursing was conducted involving nursing faculty members at universities in Japan. After inviting 280 nursing universities to participate in the survey, 37 completed questionnaires were collected and descriptively analyzed. Results: In approximately 30% of the universities, multiple professions were involved in collaboratively teaching anatomy and physiology. Furthermore, 59.5% of the universities offered a combination of didactic lectures and laboratory learning. Difficulties in teaching anatomy and physiology included the limitations of the physical teaching environment, the difficulty of teaching the importance of anatomy and physiology in nursing practice, the difficulty of adjusting educational content to learner readiness, and the difficulty of terminology and concepts specific to anatomy and physiology. Innovations used in teaching anatomy and physiology from a nursing perspective included integrating anatomy and physiology with related disciplines, encouraging students to visualize human anatomy in three dimensions, and linking anatomy and physiology to clinical nursing practice. Conclusion: Despite some difficulties in teaching the subjects, faculty members have implemented effective educational methods on their own. Due to the various constraints of the learning environment, it is difficult for students to learn anatomy and physiology on campus in depth and acquire a deep understanding of its significance in clinical practice. Therefore, educational involvement that fosters students’ self-directed learning skills and encourages flexible learning is expected. In addition, by collaborating with multiple disciplines to provide anatomy and physiology education, the participants of this study innovated pedagogies for teaching nursing students about the usefulness of anatomy and physiology and motivated their students. Moving forward, teachers need to relate their knowledge of anatomy and physiology to actual nursing care and clinical cases and convey the importance of deeply understanding anatomy and physiology in nursing practice to support their students’ active learning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103551
JournalNurse Education in Practice
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Feb


  • Anatomy
  • Clinical competency
  • Nursing education
  • Physiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Education


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