Anatomy will be one of the most exciting subjects you cover when you start medical school but excitement isn’t really enough on its own (sadly). Everyone wants to be a super-ace or at least not find themselves struggling with learning how to learn. I’d honestly say your first block or two will be “learning how to learn,” more on that later.

So how do you tackle the entire human body? Systematically of course, let’s divide and conquer.

You only really need 3 things to tackle anatomy and ace it. Two of them being outside-of-school resources.

Netter’s Flash Cards

The first thing I bought when med school started, and will keep forever (not just for sentimental value and not because I’m a hoarder).

The Breakdown on Netter’s


  1. Exactly what you need, especially the attachments and insertions of every muscle in the body. This is critical in medical school.
  2. As bonuses, there are clinical correlates on relevant cards (say, wrist bones, skull bones) which you WILL get tested on in medical school. Show me a med school that doesn’t test you on Colles’ fracture, I dare you.
  3. Portability, of course. Why carry around the 3.4 kilotonne copy of Thieme when you don’t have to? And seriously, don’t get that book. More on that later.


  1. Lack of depth perception. This is critical in medical school, and not just for exams. Drawings are flat and you don’t get the critical shadow and interaction of the human body with real physical light in a cartoon.
  2. The structures are isolated. In real life, muscles overlap, and arteries take different courses other than straight lines (shock, I know, sorry). It’s a big mistake to learn anatomy from cartoons, for those reasons.
  3. Colouring. Obvious (don’t scream at me, please), but in reality, the human body is a lot of dark brown on the inside (on a cadavre, which you’ll be learning from, that is) and nerves aren’t a shiny golden, heart-warming sunflower yellow.

Rohen’s Colour Atlas of Anatomy


  1. It’s bloody brilliant, I don’t know what else to say. This is such a must in your medical education and I’m eternally thankful for the people who dedicated their bodies, as well as the authors who devoted so much time and energy to make such a great learning tool for us.
  2. Real cadavers: again, learning the human body from cartoons is epic fail, because you’ll find yourself learning the location of everything all over again on a real human body after wasting your time finding it on a cartoon body. The real cadavres are an immense boost to the anatomy lab work you do.
    1. The tendons, joints, ligaments are super clear here, and help greatly when you’re studying the pelvis or the tiny joints, ligaments, and muscles in the hand.
    2. The larynx and pharynx parts are remarkable (a recurring theme in this book is how the authors seriously will dissect out an organ like the heart, larynx or brain and label everything you need to know! Insanely awesome).
  3. Depth perception: Here, you can really and truly grasp the relationship of one structure to the other. This is critical, because you can better grasp the depth of the mediastinum, and see just how superficial/deep structures are in relation to another. It makes the tricky crossing of tendons make more sense (especially the ones in the hand, agh!). You also get a real physical understanding of how thick muscles are and how they change dimensions based on their location.
  4. The head and neck section, and pelvis section. I’d probably still be in a foetal position if I didn’t have the head and neck section of Rohen’s, and you’ll see why when you get there. The dissections are expertly done and in something as insane as the head and neck and the pelvis, this book shines.
  5. The labeling. You have a bunch of arrows and numbers pointing at structures up with the photograph, with the names corresponding to the numbers below. This functions as flash cards and helps expedite learning.

There’s some CT/MRI imaging which is pretty cool, and more like a bonus.


  1. There’s not much text in my version (Fifth Edition, the black and orange one I affectionately refer to as the Halloween version). So if you want more explanations, you might have to hit your school materials or Moore’s Clinically Oriented Anatomy (which is insane wordy and should just be used as a reference and for its clinical blue boxes). That can be a bonus though if you just want images to learn from.
  2. Size/weight. I’ve only carried this 2-3 times to school with me, but if there’s an electronic version or something available, go for that.

I hope this all helps, guys! May you all hit the ground running in med school or continue doing great!