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Kathy Pappas, PT, DPT, Associate Professor of Human Anatomy

Department of Physical Therapy, School of Health Sciences

Springfield College, Springfield

Massachusetts, USA

Springfield College Translates Anatomy Learning from the Classroom to the Clinic

Integrating into the curriculum helps health sciences students grasp anatomical form, function, and movement, and supports their remote learning during COVID-19. is such an intrinsic part of Kathy Pappas’ clinical anatomy teaching she describes herself as a “super user”. Pappas is associate professor of human anatomy and anatomy lab coordinator at Springfield College in Massachusetts, where she has taught since 2006.

Over the past 5 years, she has integrated Primal’s 3D Atlas content across every element of her clinical human anatomy course. Focused on anatomical function and how this relates to movement, this course is offered to physical therapy, occupational therapy, and athletic training students, as well as some graduate exercise science majors.

Reinforcing Learning with the Best Option for Students

Pappas first came to Primal when looking for a digital anatomy resource as both a teaching tool for instructors and a study aid for students. “We are primarily focused on the musculoskeletal system – nerves and blood vessels as well that go along with that – this program really met all the needs that I was looking for in providing the best options for my students,” she says.

She was also taken with how easy was to use and get started with. “It was not in a demo-state or a beta-state; it was fully operational, and I was able to just jump right in with that,” she says.

Primal’s content also made a good fit with her existing course materials. “The information within the program very closely matched the textbook we were using, so there was a lot of reinforcement of terminology and how we could best get information to the students,” she says.

As a result, the School of Health Sciences made a collective decision to go with Primal and provide instructors and students with access to

Making Connections with Interactive MRI and Dissection Images

Today, is the only digital anatomy resource Pappas uses in her teaching. This includes Primal’s slides, interactive views, and animations, which she downloads to create PowerPoint presentations. “The ability to import images, the ability to have some true human dissection, the radiological images, and the ability to look at things from multiple perspectives have been really important for our program,” she says.

The ability to import images, the ability to have some true human dissection, the radiological images, and the ability to look at things from multiple perspectives have been really important for our program.

Kathy Pappas

Pappas is similarly delighted with how well dovetails with a new musculoskeletal imaging course introduced to Springfield’s physical therapy program. “That our students can look at the anatomical structures on our human donors and then be able to correlate that back to what’s available for them online 24 hours, 7 days a week,” she says.

Primal’s quizzes also provide a valuable revision tool for her students. “What I really enjoy is the quiz component, where my students can go in and test themselves and prepare for my exams that way,” she says.

Meeting the Challenges of Remote Learning

Over recent months, Pappas, like others, has adapted her teaching to meet the shifting sands of educating students amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. This has prompted a new approach to, one that supports delivering classes, assignments, and assessments online. “Right now, I use Primal during Zoom sessions to go into the program and show them [students] by sharing my screen – What are we studying today? Why is this important?” she says.

To boost remote learning for her students, Pappas has also embraced Primal’s embeddable viewer to broach what for her is new territory, adding images to the exams she builds in the School of Health Sciences’ learning platform. “In certain questions about attachments, when I can put the image up, students feel like I’ve given them a little gift!” she says.

Overall, Primal has certainly met my expectations and goals in teaching.

Kathy Pappas

Measures of Success

As access to is funded by the library, the resource is given an annual review based on its benefit to faculty and whether students are using it. To date, Primal has passed this inspection with flying colors. “It’s a kind of ‘Click Yes’ renewal every year,” says Pappas.

This approval is driven by ever-increasing usage by students, who for personal study mostly access from a mobile device at home, and in better non-COVID-19 times, in learning commons/library. “They appreciate the ability to access information on their own time, not during specific lectures or laboratory times,” says Pappas.

Those students who favor digital resources over textbooks also appreciate being able to reinforce their learning outside the classroom with online access to 24/7.

Achieving Teaching Goals

Pappas is impressed with the changes and innovations Primal has made to over the past five years. More than this, she values how well the resource fits with her role in training future clinicians and ensuring that student knowledge and skills translate from the classroom to the clinical setting. “Overall, Primal has certainly met my expectations and goals in teaching,” she says.

No wonder that after five years of turning exclusively to for digital support in explaining anatomical form, function, and movement, Pappas says “I guess you might say in the world of information technology that I’ve become a super user!”