Q: Since the release of our new model customization options, the most frequently asked question is: “Why does this matter if we’re all the same underneath?”
A: While it is true that phenotypical variation goes beyond the skin: (notably connectives, musculature, microvasculature),; a key pillar of our mission for the model customization release was to emphasize our similarities above all. Although anatomical variations are what make us unique, and are important in certain scenarios, historically an overemphasis placed on our differences rather than what unites us has contributed to healthcare inequality for patients around the world. To counteract this systemic bias, it was important for us at Complete Anatomy that we focus on what unites us, in addition to celebrating the individual beauty that exists across humanity. For this reason, we have maintained the same underlying anatomy for all body systems with the exception of the Integumentary system, which is now customizable.
That said, we also revisited the single underlying anatomy in the gross female and male models with several changes to make it more broadly representative, such as increasing the femur length, adjusting the deltoid muscles, and adapting the Q-angle of the knee. Furthermore, in line with our commitment to top anatomical accuracy, all new customizable characteristics of the model correspond accurately to the underlying anatomy.
So, if we agree that we are essentially the same underneath, why offer model customization options? From our research into the area of racial inequality within healthcare, lack of representation contributes to this systemic problem. Recent surveys have shown over half of white medical students believe dangerous falsehoods about perceived differences when it comes to persons of different ancestral backgrounds , so the goal of this release is to drive home the fact that, underneath the wonderful variety of humans, our core anatomy is essentially the same.
Since medical students interact with our product from day one of their studies, we believe it’s our duty to address under-representation within anatomy learning resources. It is our firm belief that by broadening students’ awareness of the variety of humans, they can challenge centuries-long biases. Ultimately, we want to be part of training a generation of healthcare professionals who are more aware of the systemic bias within healthcare, which will in turn improve patient care for all down the line.
1.Hoffman, K.M., Trawalter, S., Axt, J.R. and Oliver, M.N. (2016). Racial Bias in Pain Assessment and Treatment recommendations, and False Beliefs about Biological Differences between Blacks and Whites. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, [online] 113(16), pp.4296–4301. doi:10.1073/pnas.1516047113. Available here.