Professional Development

Professional development is one of those buzzwords in academia that makes some people excited, and it makes others cringe. To me, the main reason for this difference in opinion is based on desire versus must do. Some people, like myself, desire to gain more knowledge and to be on the cutting edge in anatomy and physiology. People like me love professional development in all shapes and sizes. However, I am also a person that cringes at the thought of professional development. This occurs when someone (a supervisor) tells me that I HAVE TO take a certain training that a) I feel I am overqualified for, b) I don’t have time for, c) doesn’t apply to my job, or d) all of the above. This type of professional development seems to me to be a waste of my time.

I will focus here on the good side of professional development. Learning more about something that you are inspired about has never been easier. In this era of technology, it is pretty easy to find reputable sources of online material in anatomy and physiology. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of bad information out there.

There are three ways to obtain professional development online that I would like to discuss: MOOC’s, do it yourself, and actual online coursework.

MOOC is an acronym that has varying meanings depending upon whom you ask. Most say MOOC is massive open online course. The basic idea is that there are a couple platforms out there for MOOCs that offer coursework in literally dozens of areas. The pros of MOOCs is that they are generally offered by reputable universities and in a wide range of topics. The cons are that they are unofficial course (unless something is officially worked out with your employer), the courses do not count as credits, and the timing of the course may not meet your schedule.

You can just research and read for yourself. I’ve listed below 4 of my favorite free online resources.The big pro here is flexibility. The major con, of course, is that it is unofficial.

Respiratory physiology and pathophysiology –

Neuroscience –

Endocrinology –

and of course, the HAPS website –


Lastly, one can engage in actual online coursework. For many, this is a necessary aspect of being an instructor in higher education. Sometimes an accrediting body may question one’s credentials. Other times, someone might want to add a new field to their credentialing. Most credentialing bodies ask for 18 graduate hours of work in a field in which they teach. For those of us in anatomy and physiology, sometime it gets tricky. A&P is often taught in the biology department, thus HAPS has created the HAPS-Institute, which offers graduate level biology courses. I encourage you to visit the HAPS-I page by clicking HAPS-I to learn more.

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