Anatomy as a Third Language

On the first Gross Anatomy laboratory day amongst my classmates, I felt like I was Harry Potter on his first day at Hogwarts. Harry Potter wore a black coat, while I was in white. He carried the magic wand, and I had my dissection kit. Mr. Potter went to “Gryffindor” and I went to “Table 16.”

I find that learning the name of each structure in the body is frustrating but can also be fun. I didn’t grow up using English as my primary and first language. I have been living in the United State for nine years. Learning English as a second language is hard but I will always love learning languages. So, now I am learning my third language – Anatomy.

I really like how the Gross Anatomy structure is set up at Texas A&M Veterinary School. The professor sets the weekly objectives, which we use as guidelines to accomplish each week. The first objective of each week is to study Greek and Latin root words and their combining forms. Knowing what those root words mean makes anatomy easier. Initially, I just memorized where infraspinatus and supraspinatus muscles are. This is hard when you have hundreds of anatomy terms to memorize. (Memorization is not an effective way to learn anatomy anyway). After I learned what “infra” and “supra” mean, I immediately knew where those are on an animal scapula (shoulder blade). Infraspinatus muscle locates beneath the spine of a scapula, and supraspinatus muscle locates above the spine of the scapula. The same is true about identifying the nerve. I learn “phren” means the diaphragm, and immediately I could identify the phrenic nerve because it innervates the diaphragm.

I still have a long way to go in veterinary school, but finding different fun ways make me enjoy studying and relieve the stress. Thinking that learning anatomy as a third language is one of those ways.