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Anatomy Study Guides for Nurse Students


Elizabeth Archer

The human body is an amazing and incredibly complex machine. Right now, millions of tiny activities are happening all at once to keep you functioning and healthy. Artists and scientists alike have sought to unravel its mysteries since humans first set foot on land. And thanks to modern medicine, we now have countless roadmaps to help guide us through our study of anatomy.

We listed below some of our favorite anatomy and physiology study guides, to help your knowledge of the human body stay sharp and ready-to-go, whether you’re still in the classroom or have been on the job in healthcare for years.

What to look for in an Anatomy and Physiology Book Study Guide

While there are volumes (literally) of anatomy guide books available, not all of them are created equal. Many study guides can be fun and colorful, but might not be as thorough or even as accurate as some of the denser textbooks. As a nursing or medical student, you’ll want to make sure that your guide is providing you with clear and precise information, hopefully wrapped in a fun package.

Some things to look out for when selecting a guide:

Authorship - Was the guide created by a doctor or another professional with medical expertise? The best textbooks are usually written by someone with field experience, who can link all academic and theoretical information to practical scenarios. Also, if it’s written by a medical professional, chances are it’s written for other medical professionals, so the information given will be especially relevant to you.

Detail - Does the guide get down into the nitty-gritty of anatomy and physiology? Does it use appropriate jargon and vocabulary to explain terms and images? Often, anatomy guides not meant specifically for doctors and nurses will gloss over some of the finer points of the body and its functions. And general anatomy is great - to a point. But you’re going to want a thorough guide which will give you a solid reference, packed with all the info you need to know.

Date - Was this guide created within the last 5 years? Medical innovations move so quickly that textbooks and guides can seem like they’re already out of date by the times they come off the press. Luckily, we’ve pretty much got the body down, so your old poster of the Grey’s Anatomy illustration is probably still accurate. Even so, you should make sure that you’re getting the most up-to-date version of your textbook or guide for accurate and quality information.

Anatomy and Physiology Coloring Books

  1. The Anatomy Coloring Book ed. 4 - Wynn Kapit, Lawrence M. Elson: This is the gold-standard for nurses; the number-one selling anatomy and physiology colouring book. Available online for as little as $18.00, this guide reads like a textbook and provides large, detailed images which you can creatively color in to customize your anatomy and physiology colouring workbook.
  2. Netter’s Anatomy Coloring Book ed. 2 - John T. Hansen PhD: Another fun and expressive guide to anatomy and physiology, this is one of the anatomy coloring books for medical students that puts the “study” back in study-guide. This book contains lessons, quizzes, and focuses on correlations between structures and functions throughout the pages, with special emphasis on muscles and their actions. This anatomy muscles coloring book is perfect for medical and nursing students, as it provides true-story examples of medical cases involving specific aspects of anatomy through clinical notes and annotations on each of its anatomy coloring book pages.
  3. The Physiology Coloring Book ed. 1 - Wynn Kapit et al: This Wynn Kapit anatomy coloring book is the companion to #1 in this section, this guide addresses the “how” of the “what”. While coloring in and outside the lines, you’ll learn the relationships between part of the body, and how they function individually and together to keep this awesome machine (your body) alive and active. Packed with anatomy and physiology notes for nurses, this is a great resource for every nursing or medical student.

Anatomy and Physiology Video Courses

  1. Khan Academy - Human Anatomy and Physiology: This full online course is basically an anatomy 101 study guide and follows the same structure as most quality in-person classes would, through a series of recorded lectures, videos, click-through lessons and quizzes. Khan Academy is full of courses like this one, from mathematics to art history, and is totally free to access. Whether you’re a student and need a little help outside your usual classes, or a seasoned nurse in need of a little refresher, this course will answer questions about anatomy and physiology that you didn’t know you had.
  2. Crash Course Biology - Hank Green: Videos 26 through 34 in this youtube playlist specifically address (briefly) human anatomy and physiology, and nestle in between a series of other useful videos which break down human bio into fun, colorful, and super-digestible 10-11 minute videos, without sacrificing accuracy or detail, making them a great supplement for any student’s anatomy and physiology college book.

Anatomy and Physiology Flashcards

  1. Netter’s Anatomy Flash Cards ed. 5 - John T. Hansen PhD: These Anatomy 101 flashcards are the companion to the Netter’s Coloring Book. Featuring lovely full-color illustrations by the original artist and surgeon Frank Netter, you can flip through every organ system with ease. 300 cards detail the origin, insertion, action, and innervation of the organ depicted, making them a perfect resource for studying anatomy and physiology for nurses.
  2. Quizlet Anatomy Flashcards - Quizlet is a site where students can create their own study guides from material they’ve taken from classes and other resources. These flashcard sets aren’t always the most thorough, but they’re made by college students studying the same material in the same context that you are. Plus, there are thousands of them, including flashcard sets with anatomy and physiology pertaining to specific topics such as neurology, phlebotomy, and endocrinology.
  3. AnatomyArcade.com - Okay, this one isn’t a flashcard set, but we couldn’t resist including it because it’s so much fun! Full of educational mini-games such as Whack-A-Bone, Poke-A-Muscle, and Match-A-Brain, this site features exciting and playful tools that help you hone your anatomical knowledge through entertainment.

With the books, courses, and guides listed above, you should be able to find a resource which is fun and fits your learning style. Check out these other blog posts from our friends at Nurse Theory and Nurse Journal for more anatomy and physiology study platforms.

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