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Anatomy and Physiology Distance Education Courses Available

As anatomy and physiology can be taught through text and illustrations, these are popular courses for colleges and universities to offer through distance education. A biology course is usually a prerequisite for studies in this field.

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Essential Information

Online anatomy and physiology courses can be completed by students working toward a larger science-based degree, such as biological or environmental sciences. They may also be completed independently from a degree program as part of general education requirements or continuing education. Members of the army and others in army-related positions may take both anatomy and physiology online courses for free through the U.S. Army Medical Department. Some schools offer virtual lab components through which students use computer programs for simulations. In contrast, other schools offer lab courses that can be completed from home but require students to perform dissections. In these cases, students purchase lab kits and may dissect such specimens as a sheep brain, sheep heart, cow eye and rodent. After completing these dissections, students may be assigned to take pictures and document their findings on the course's virtual learning platform.

Depending on the school, online courses can be offered at specific days and times each week as live virtual class experiences. In other instances, students may access online learning platforms featuring course content, which may include pre-recorded videos, at their own pace. Hybrid courses combining online studies and on-campus experiences are also available.

Online Anatomy and Physiology Courses

The following are a few of the most commonly offered online anatomy and physiology courses.

  • Basic Anatomy: Anatomy can be taken as a standalone course, independent of physiology. These courses teach the purpose and location of different parts of the human body. Students learn basics of anatomical terminology and then work through the parts, organization and relationships of major body systems.
  • Basic Physiology: Courses in physiology, sometimes called medical physiology, can also be taken independently of anatomy. Most of these are designed for students planning to follow programs in nursing or allied health sciences. Physiology courses build on knowledge of anatomy and add functions of organ systems. Basic concepts include homeostasis and cellular chemistry.
  • Basic Anatomy and Physiology: Distance education courses that combine anatomy and physiology are also designed for students planning to pursue a health career. Along with a focus on structures of organs and their systems, they include studies of cells, tissues and human development.
  • Specialized Human Anatomy and Physiology: There are a number of advanced and specialized distance education courses in human anatomy and physiology. Some of these courses are for those planning a career in audiology and focus on the anatomy and physiology of the auditory system. Those interested in pharmacology may take a physiology course that teaches drug actions and pathophysiology. Allied health imaging sciences students often take a distance course in sectional anatomy.
  • Animal Anatomy and Physiology: Medical doctors, nurses and other healthcare specialists are not the only ones needing to know anatomy and physiology. Veterinarians and their allied career partners also need to understand the anatomy and physiology of animals. Besides basic courses in animal anatomy and physiology, there are specialty online courses that focus on either small - also labeled domestic - or large animals.
  • The Cardiovascular and Respiratory Systems: In this course, students explore blood characteristics, functions and disorders. Students also study the respiratory and circulatory systems and the symptoms of diseases and disorders that may affect these systems.
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