Anatomy Olympiad initiated by students of the University of Tartu gains popularity

On 28 and 29 August, second-year medical students of the University of Tartu are organising the International Anatomy Olympiad “Anatomy Theatre” in Tartu. Ten teams from six universities from Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will put their medical knowledge and creativity to test. The organisers hope the event becomes a lasting tradition.

Last year, when the first Anatomy Olympiad was held, its theme was “Anatomy Park”. To continue the tradition of a theme, test the participants’ creativity and add a touch of entertainment to the tasks, “Anatomy Theatre” was chosen as this year’s theme.

“For centuries, anatomy and surgery were taught in rooms resembling amphitheatres. An example is the Old Anatomical Theatre on Toome Hill, one location of our event. For hundreds of years, both dissections and surgeries took place on such theatre-like stages in front of an audience mostly comprising professors and students. Sometimes, however, dissections were held as public spectacles to which townspeople could buy a ticket,” said Jaanika Kilgi, an organiser of the Olympiad and a medical student of the University of Tartu. So, following the footsteps of the amusing history of medicine, this year’s participants must captivate the audience with not just their knowledge but also with a short film about anatomy, for instance.

Organisers emphasise the wider aim of the event: to promote studying medicine and show that it does not have to be burdensome, dull and tedious. “From an academic point of view, the Olympiad offers a fun way to reinforce one’s knowledge. The element of competition promotes effort just like the need to exit one’s comfort zone fosters development,” said Kilgi. She added that all of this year’s organisers belonged to the winning teams of Anatomy Olympiads in Tartu and Riga last year, and for them, the competition was one of the most memorable events of their first year of medical studies, giving them extra motivation and energy for learning.

The Olympiad brings together ten three-member teams from the University of Tartu, the University of Turku, the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Latvia, Riga Stradinš University and the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences. Because of the coronavirus, the Olympiad cannot host teams from Poland and Sweden. Much to the organisers' surprise, also medical students from Nigeria, Uzbekistan and Bangladesh were interested in the event.

At the Olympiad, competitors must complete a variety of tasks. In addition to five main organisers, 20 volunteers from among the second- and third-year medical students helped to come up with new practical tasks for the competition.

The organisers hope that the Anatomy Olympiad becomes an annual prominent tradition that inspires medical students in Estonia and abroad and invites increasing numbers of participants from even more foreign universities to Tartu each year. “We are also hopeful that taking part in the event inspires younger students to take the baton of organising the Anatomy Olympiad next year,” added Kilgi.

This year’s International Anatomy Olympiad is organised by second-year medical students of the University of Tartu Jaanika Kilgi, Peeter Paul Kollist, Samuel Rüsse, Martti Vanker and Mihkel Hallen. They are supported by the University of Tartu Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine and teaching staff of the Department of Anatomy, who helped with establishing international contacts as well as financially. The organisers would also like to thank the organisers of last year’s Olympiad for sharing their experience.

The Olympiad takes place on 28 and 29 August at the University of Tartu Biomedicum and the Old Anatomical Theatre. Additional information can be found on the home page of the Olympiad.

Further information:
Jaanika Kilgi
Medical student of the University of Tartu, organiser of the International Anatomy Olympiad
5902 8830