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David Geffen School of Medicine

Anatomy From the Inside Out

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is architectually beautiful, but it is the design within that really counts.
By Morris Newman |

A former chief of general and emergency radiology at UCLA Medical Center, Dr. Michael Zucker traded his clinical-practice work for a unique position integrating radiology into the medical school’s pathology and anatomy teaching blocks. Having practiced and taught internal and emergency medicine, as well as radiology, Dr. Zucker explains, “I’d seen the lack of anatomy knowledge by residents and senior medical students. Either they needed refreshing or never learned it, so the need was obviously there.”

Dr. Zucker started teaching at UCLA in July 1990, and says his method has been to first show his radiology students what “a normal” was in the human body before venturing into specific radiographic pathologies. That meant detailed anatomy was always a part of his lectures. Nowadays, he can see a pronounced before-and-after effect among his students. “The knowledge of anatomy is better among the younger students than ever before,” he offers. “I had some fourthyear students sit in on my lectures, and they said they possessed nowhere near that level of information when they first came in, because the radiology/anatomy parallel track didn’t yet exist.”

Not that Dr. Zucker is satisfied. He and Dr. Shelley Metten, vice-chair of programmatic instruction and director of the Division of Anatomy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, have made changes throughout the program, with this year’s goal being to include more radiology for second-year students. Their cutting-edge approach may one day be standard in medical schools around the country, but Dr. Zucker insists it also benefits those students gross anatomy has always served best.

“The days of exploratory surgery are becoming fairly rare thanks to radiology,” Dr. Zucker concludes. “Surgeons know what they’re dealing with, thanks to imaging, and they put their knowledge of anatomy to work before going in. Radiology is also becoming a treating field, as well as a diagnostic tool. Radiologists are blowing out clots and treating aneurysms, which requires a sophisticated knowledge of anatomy." - David Geffner


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