Teaching Stories

Student-run success story: The Anatomy Club

Three years ago, veterinary anatomy lecturer Julie Dickson applied for a Discretionary Seedcorn Funding to kick off a student-run Anatomy Club in the Vet School. A student committee was set up, a bank account was created and then the pandemic hit. However, the brilliant students running this club were not deterred and kept going with online activities. Now able to run in-person activities, they have increased their membership to 76 students, with students from both the Vet School and those taking anatomy degrees on the Bristol Campus coming together to take part in activities such as a dissection of a cow’s digit and a horse’s head.

The skills the students on the committee are developing are wide-ranging; advertising, marketing and communication skills are being developed through the use of a brilliant Instagram page (with 347 followers!); organising events, inviting speakers and paying for travel expenses. They recently organised a dog yoga (more dogs in the room while they tried to do yoga!) which helped them learn more about canine muscle structure, and they’ve also done some knitting with DNA patterns. At the end of practical sessions, committee members have made  summary resources (example here) to recap the information and share with the participants.

I spoke to some of the club’s committee members to find out a little bit more. I started off by asking them ‘What impact has Anatomy Club had on your time at University?’.

The students listed so many positive things about the Anatomy Club: it has allowed them to meet lots of new people and interact with students in other years groups – something they would not have had opportunity to do before. The students I spoke to were in their fourth year and discussed the experience of providing some mentorship to younger students. They talked about how it added life balance and made learning more fun, as well as giving them the opportunity to revisit skills and information they had not done since earlier years. They have gained experience in planning events and budgeting, as well as working as a team. They have seen each other develop as a committee and as individuals and grow together, as well as securing the structure of the club and processes like how to get specimens etc for future years.

We then talked about challenges they have faced. The students talked about how it isn’t always easy to fit in activities around other years busy times, so some activities are more suited to different year groups because of exams or clinic times. They said it has been a huge learning curve in terms of logistics; at the beginning they relied on Julie a lot to help with getting specimens and booking rooms, but they have become a lot more self-sufficient as time has gone on. They have slight concerns about how it will be kept on when they graduate but they have already had interest from students in all year groups.

My last question was ‘what advice would you give to other students thinking of running a subject-related club?’. The advice the students gave was brilliant!

  • A really good mentor is essential
  • Stay organised and a really clear system of organisation
  • Write your minutes in meetings so you can go back and check what you covered
  • Have an agenda at the start of meetings to keep things focussed
  • Make sure committee members are going to be 100% committed
  • As long as you’re enthusiastic and willing to learn, it will work.

There are other examples of student-run clubs in the University, such as the Maths Café. If you’d like to set something up with your students, please get in touch with BILT and we can discuss upcoming funding opportunities and mentorship.

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