Anatomy and physiology teachers engage students’ interest in the human body through lecture, lab and dissection. Classes cover topics on how the body’s many systems work, such as the muscular, immune, endocrine, digestive, lymphatic, reproductive, nervous, respiratory, skeletal and urinary systems. Although teachers spend a significant time in the classroom or teaching lab, they may also have other duties that include advising students, serving on committees and conducting research.
The required education depends on the level of teaching. If you want to teach high school anatomy and physiology, you must meet the education requirements and state licensing requirements in your state for teacher certification. This varies according to state, but requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Post-secondary educators, such as professors, adjunct faculty and college-level instructors, must have a minimum of a master’s degree in anatomy and physiology. In some cases a related major is accepted, or you can qualify by having adequate graduate-level credits in anatomy and physiology. Some universities require a doctoral degree in anatomy and physiology or related discipline.
Employers generally prefer candidates who have prior teaching experience, and some employers ask for several years experience. Experience teaching a similar audience, such as teaching college students if you want to be a college-level teacher, is an advantage. As the old saying goes, it's tough to get experience if you can't get a job. To circumvent this obstacle, teachers often begin their career by doing student teaching as a teacher assistant for their university, or as a student teacher in the public school system.
The Human Anatomy & Physiology Society's "Distributed Learning Position Statement" supports the use of technology in the classroom to provide learning despite distance and time barriers. They encourage schools to use distributed learning opportunities, such as on-campus instruction, web-enhanced classrooms, hybrid courses, and completely online classes. That sort of teaching role may play an increasing part in preparation for teaching anatomy and physiology. At a minimum, instructors should be comfortable using computers to input grades and communicate with students.
Depending on the school you want to teach for, and on the responsibilities delegated to the teaching position, you may be expected to conduct or supervise research. If so, prior research experience or publications will be helpful. Some teachers are also responsible for advising students or contributing to student retention efforts. Skills working with students in a similar advising or counseling role, as well as knowledge of academic programs and requirements, may be required.
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.