10 Terrific Online Resources for Studying Anatomy and Physiology

By Janet Rae-Dupree, Pat DuPree

No matter how much you study or how many Latin and Greek roots you memorize, it’s inevitable that some aspects of anatomy and physiology will leave you dazed and confused. But if you study within reach of an Internet connection, you don’t have to stay that way for long. Simply surf over to one of the following ten sites and start entering search terms. As with anything Internet-related, however, you have to be cautious about the accuracy of what you find. Just keep this mantra in mind: “When in doubt, trust the textbook.”

  • Answers and More Answers: If you go in via Answers.com’s main page, you may not find what you need. So skip the home page and go to the Anatomy and Physiology topic page. As of this writing, the site offers 24 million answers based on both keyword searches and answers to questions submitted from the general public. Material is drawn from scores of brand-name content publishers as well as Answers.com’s own editorial team. Can’t quite figure out where an “anteroinferior” something is supposed to be? Not entirely sure what a gallbladder does? Answers.com’s friendly little “Ask us anything . . .” box at the top of every page takes you straight to an aggregation of what various sources say.

  • BioInteractive: Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Maryland offers a wide-ranging set of animations and expert descriptions of what goes on inside the human body. Pressed for time? Click straight through to the “physiology” topic area first, then go back and explore “anatomy.”

  • Drilling, Drilling, Drilling Some More: Anatomy Drill and Practice is an extensive set of study exercises maintained by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (who also happens to be the publisher of Anatomy & Physiology Workbook For Dummies, 2nd Edition). The site features an extensive collection of full-color images with accompanying suggested labels (Level One) or blank labels (Level Two) that you must figure out for yourself.

  • GetBodySmart: This website is the brainchild and passion of an anatomy and physiology instructor, Scott Sheffield, who says in his site’s mission statement that he’s attempting to distill two decades of teaching into a single, fully animated and interactive e-book about the human body. In addition to “flash” windows that drill down into various systems, GetBodySmart offers free tutorials and quizzes to explain complex physiological interactions. Sheffield readily acknowledges that his work will last “many years,” so perhaps the best is yet to come.

  • Human Biodyssey: Exploring Anatomy and Physiology: This page is the work of Dr. James Crimando at Gateway Community College in Phoenix, Arizona. Dr. Crimando lists every scrap of information a student needs to succeed in his classes (or any anatomy and physiology class), including extensive practice questions, lecture outlines, and quick summaries of class sessions. Regardless of whether you’re among Dr. Crimando’s students, his site is an incredibly useful receptacle for information about how the body is organized.

  • Into the Lion’s Den: You trust the textbook, right? That means you can probably trust the textbook’s author, too. This delightful site is maintained by a Missouri community college professor who also happens to be coauthor of an anatomy and physiology textbook. Dr. Kevin T. Patton has been teaching the subject for nearly three decades and has developed a refreshingly gentle sense of humor along the way. His website is packed with study tips, downloadable presentation slides, and guided tours of various anatomical systems.

  • Peering into the Inner Body: This marvelously interactive site features more than 300 three-dimensional computer-aided-design, or CAD, views inside the human body, allowing rapid exploration and identification of more than 1,500 body parts in all 13 major anatomical systems.

  • Pop Quiz Central: Murray Jensen, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota, conducts research on the use of technology in science education. His website is both an outgrowth of his research and a source of ideas for it. As of this writing, the site consists mostly of dozens of quizzes of varying lengths and difficulty. Treat this site like your own personal flashcard system, and you’ll be head and shoulders above your fellow students.

  • The Venerable Gray’s: When this site refers to “Gray’s Anatomy,” it’s not talking about the popular TV series; it’s talking about the venerable reference book that dates back to 1858 and is now online for quick and easy access. Included in the “virtual” Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body are more than 1,200 color illustrations and a subject index with 13,000 entries. If your textbook is missing critical illustrations, don’t worry; a quick keyword search on this site can reveal a number of relevant graphics for you to study.

  • The Virtual Body — Medtropolis: When you first visit this site, click on English or Spanish, and then sit back and enjoy the show. This site covers only the brain, skeleton, heart, and digestive tract, but its clear, concise, three-dimensional representations of these organs and systems make it worth a look.