Spending Wisely: The Role of Cost and Value Research in the Pursuit of Advancing Anatomical Sciences Education

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Studies of “cost and value” in anatomical sciences education examine not only what works, but at what cost, thus evaluating the inputs and outputs of education. This research provides insights into how to use available resources (e.g., academic time, budgets, infrastructure) as a mechanism to obtaining the maximum outcomes available. The purpose of this viewpoint article is to expand on the application of cost and value concepts to anatomical sciences education, contextualizing these concepts through a deeper dive into the more costly educational approaches of human donor dissection. In doing so, both questions and opportunities are raised for the discipline of anatomical sciences going forward. Educational decisions, inclusive of cost and value appraisals, consider the range of outcomes for which the activity is designed to achieve, and the activity's integration with the philosophy of the educational program it is contributing to; these decisions, thus, evaluate more than just cost alone. Healthcare students' engagement with human donor dissection pedagogy offers an array of reported non-economic benefits, including non-traditional discipline-independent skill (NDIS) development (e.g., professionalism, teamwork skills). These skills are often harder to measure, but are no less important to the final pedagogical decision-making process. The goal of cost and value research is to create an evidence-base toward education that delivers maximum value for a given spend. Anatomy educators, researchers, and decision makers who embrace cost and value dialogue, and interpret and apply findings from studies of educational costs, are best positioned to improve the educational value for their learners and provide effective outputs for all stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-269
Number of pages7
JournalAnatomical Sciences Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Cost and Cost Analysis
  • Economics
  • Gross anatomy education
  • medical education
  • Value

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