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Understanding Anatomy and Physiology

If you are training to become a certified medical assistant, you will be required to take a number of different courses.



One course that can give people difficulty is the course of human anatomy and physiology. In fact, in this course, you will need to learn a number of different terms and diagrams, identifying the various parts of the body and what role they play in the body as a whole.

First, notice the title of these courses. You will be learning anatomy (literally Greek for “cut-up”), and also physiology (literally “study of nature”). These two parts of the course capture the two areas that you will be studying in detail. You will learn to identify each of the parts of the body by name, so that you will be able to describe its internal functioning (as though the body is “cut up”), but you will also learn to identify how each part works in tandem with the “nature” of the body as a whole.

Anatomy studies the body in terms of its independent systems. You will study a number of different systems, including the musculoskeletal system, the cardiovascular system, the reproductive system and the respiratory system. Each of these systems includes a number of different parts that are linked in such a way as to produce some effect. When studying those parts, you will learn them all in terms of their overall effect.

Physiology studies how these parts of the body fit together into a coherent whole. How, for example, do digestion and respiration work together? What is the connection between the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system? Through studying this, you will understand how to consider the human body not simply as a sequence of parts, but as a unity.

This will provide the basis for you to understand disease and the medical terminology surrounding disease. As Aristotle says, health is uniform while disease is uniform. For each of these systems, you will learn the names of various diseases. However, it is not really your job to understand the diseases, just know what they refer to. Instead, you will be studying the health of the body while the physician is responsible for correcting its diseases. While this is why the medical assistant salary is lower, it does not mean that you are any less vital.

by Lindsay Schloss

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