Virtual Anatomy: expanding veterinary student learning


  • Kyrille DeBose Associate Professor, Veterinary Medicine Library, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA



Virtual Reality, Instruction, Veterinary Medicine, JMLA Virtual Projects


Traditionally, there are three primary ways to learn anatomy outside the classroom. Books provide foundational knowledge but are limited in terms of object manipulation for deeper exploration. Three-dimensional (3D) software programs produced by companies including Biosphera, Sciencein3D, and Anatomage allow deeper exploration but are often costly, offered through restrictive licenses, or require expensive hardware. A new approach to teaching anatomy is to utilize virtual reality (VR) environments. The Virginia–Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and University Libraries have partnered to create open education–licensed VR anatomical programs for students to freely download, access, and use. The first and most developed program is the canine model. After beta testing, this program was integrated into the first-year students’ physical examination labs in fall 2019. The VR program enabled students to walk through the VR dog model to build their conceptual knowledge of the location of certain anatomical features and then apply that knowledge to live animals. This article briefly discusses the history, pedagogical goals, system requirements, and future plans of the VR program to further enrich student learning experiences.

Virtual Projects are published on an annual basis in the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) following an annual call for virtual projects in MLAConnect and announcements to encourage submissions from all types of libraries. An advisory committee of recognized technology experts selects project entries based on their currency, innovation, and contribution to health sciences librarianship.

Author Biography

Kyrille DeBose, Associate Professor, Veterinary Medicine Library, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

Kyrille DeBose originally served as the college librarian for natural resources & environment and animal sciences from 2005–2017. As of July 2017, she became the head of the Veterinary Medicine Library and liaison to Animal Sciences. As a liaison librarian for over a decade, she has extensive experience conducting in-person and online instruction related to several facets of information literacy and incorporation of technologies for disciplines in the life sciences. She has presented at multiple conferences and has written several publications related to her work in these areas.






Virtual Project