At this point in the year, most medical students have already started Gross Anatomy and have gotten a feel for many of the resources available to them. A review was previously written that compared some of the more popular anatomy atlases, and only a brief mention has been made on this site so far regarding anatomy flash cards. For many students, the idea of atlas flash cards seems redundant. You should be familiar enough with your study and learning habits to get a feel of this already. However, there are some benefits to this resource which are best shared by people who have already gone through the full experience of medical school.
Regardless of which atlas you have selected, you are most likely going to be bringing it around with you, or using the local library copy. However, this has its limitations. Pulling out a copy of Rohen on a crowded bus can not only be disturbing to those around you, but produce a serious issue of professionalism. Similarly, waiting for a bus or standing around somewhere makes balancing a thick anatomy atlas somewhat annoying. The first strength of Netter’s Anatomy Flashcards (now in their third edition) is their size. Reviewing them is not only easy to manage, but they are also easy to hide.
Chances are, your anatomy class will focus on one particular organ system or anatomic area at a time. The full Netter’s Anatomy Atlas text is 620 pages, which is overkill for your specific study needs in any given week. While it is a great resource, carrying it around along with a syllabus is going to get tiring pretty fast. A better tactic is simply grabbing the color-coded stack of flash cards dedicated to your current area of interest. The latest version already has hole punches, which keeps organization manageable. At some point in med school, most medical students realize the usefulness of portability. Stack a few cards on top of your snack bars, and you’re set for the day.
Purchasing Netter’s anatomy flash cards new grants access to the studentconsult.com online version of this resource from any computer. Even if you forgot your cards at home, you can still review them. This basically creates a second copy of the cards, which you can access indefinitely, even if you want to share the hard copy with a friend. Some will argue that this is especially useful when accessed remotely on a smart phone, but most med students would disagree. The detail of the structures combined with the small font makes for a suboptimal viewing and thus learning experience. This is precisely the reason the iPhone and Android app of any atlas is usually contraindicated.
While most first year resources are rarely used by med students on the wards, anatomy is something that will need to be reviewed for a number of clerkships, including surgery, ob/gyn, neurology, as well as elective rotations in any surgical subspecialty. Again, a full atlas is always best, but not something easily stored in scrubs pockets and referenced between cases in an operating room.
A set of anatomy flash cards can usually be purchased new for $25. Because they tend to be in moderate demand every year, they have a resale value that will allow you to recover the majority of its initial cost. Furthermore, selling your set used does not remove access to studentconsult.com, which means you can continue referencing the electronic version. Even when new versions come out, older sets can usually still be sold. With that in mind, it is perfectly reasonable to purchase the previous version of these flashcards. Human anatomy hasn’t changed too much since 2006.
As a runner up reason not to overlook Netter’s Anatomy Flashcards: They go particularly well with people in the Rohen camp of anatomy atlases, as it offers a little bit of Netter drawings to complement and enhance the Rohen experience, producing the best of both worlds.