Survival Guide for A&P Instructors

Anatomy and Physiology is a high-stakes class. Our Survival Guide for A&P Instructors is packed with resources to get you through the year.

Whether you’ve been teaching anatomy and physiology for years or your first term is coming up, Carolina Biological Supply Company is here to help. Many of our team members were educators and lab managers at one point, and we understand the challenges you’re facing.

  • You need to provide reliable lab experiences.
  • There’s a budget to manage and administrative overhead with ordering consumables, supplies, and equipment.
  • You’re helping students make it through a critical step on the way to a challenging career path.
  • And a whole lot more …

That’s why we’re glad to provide this survival guide with supplemental resources we have developed to help you optimize the lab experience.

  • Save time on lab prep.
  • Deliver consistent results.
  • Maximize your budget with practical tips and hacks.

We’ve organized this guide by the calendar year with resources you’ll find helpful along the way. The Carolina team is here for you any time of the year, too, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with questions about an order or how to get the most out of our lab kits and materials.

Additional Reading: It Takes Guts to Teach A&P

January and February: Bright-Eyed and Nobody’s Failed (Yet)

A new year and a new term arrive. All your new anatomy and physiology students file in and find a seat. Some of them look nervous, even now, and you understand why. Everybody knows what a high-stakes course this is for them. And you know something they probably don’t really grasp:

If this is an average college A&P 1 class, 30%–50% of them won’t pass or make it through. Many of them will be gone in a couple of weeks. Somewhere around another 20% won’t conquer the more advanced body systems and lab practicals of A&P 2.

There is a mountain of memorization ahead, and your students will need a lot of focus and sheer willpower to absorb all the information and new skills. Early on, you’re probably going to cover lab safety basics and procedures. Take a copy of our Safety Agreement with you today. It captures all of the details that are easy to forget and walks students through critical safety issues in and around the lab with your classes.

It won’t be long before you’ll be diving right into the first major body systems. Infographics are helpful for teaching aids at this stage. We’ve got a muscular system resource that will help as you teach the structure and function of skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscles. Pair that with our “Chicken Wing Musculature” exercise and discussion questions. Bring all these concepts home and assess retention and progress with a muscular system review.

How are you set for supplies? Has everything you ordered for the spring semester arrived? Most of the new product catalogs and pricing start showing up in January. You can find Carolina’s latest catalog here if you want to start a wish list. Do you have all your supplies?

Ordering milestone: A&P instructors and lab managers should set a reminder to start at least a preliminary inventory and get a quote by the end of March. By the way, Carolina delivers quotes within 24 hours of your request. If your school or district has contract pricing, we’ll be able to let you know that and get you the best price. When you’re ready to order, simply reference the quote number to get the pricing we sent you.

March and April: Is it Summer Yet?

Spring break is always slow to arrive. Summer feels like it’s light-years away. At this point, you’ll be overjoyed by your next three-day weekend. A&P can feel like a sprint and a marathon at the very same time—for you and your students.

How are things going in the lab? Some students are squeamish and others are just flat-out struggling. You know how much labs can positively impact student success, but if the labs themselves aren’t successful, it feels like a waste of time and money.

You need quality lab materials to deliver a consistent experience leading to the right outcome. Have you seen (and smelled) the difference our Perfect Solution® specimens make for students in the lab? The alternative to formaldehyde we use in these preserved specimens takes the overwhelming, traditional odor out of the equation. The colors and textures of organs and tissues are dramatically better than other preparations. We have rabbit specimens and single-, double-, and triple-injection cat specimens available for your dissection labs.

Our fetal pig dissection video and article are helpful supplemental resources that will probably be useful around this time of year. The resources cover fundamentals for this lab, and the video is great for helping students visualize the trickier parts of the techniques they’ll need to master, such as removing the brain.

Additional Reading: Trickiest Anatomy and Physiology Lab Techniques

What about additional funding for your anatomy and physiology budget? If your budget is tight, or just smaller than your wish list, there is money available for you! Our article “Boost Your Anatomy and Physiology Budget with Grants ” points to some trusted sources for the additional funding you need.

Ordering milestone: By this point in the year, A&P instructors and lab managers should ideally be doing inventory and requesting a quote to stay ahead of the l year-end crunch. By early June, finalize orders for the fall semester so you’re not in a last-minute dash to get materials ordered, invoiced, delivered, and paid for before your year-end deadline.

May and June and July: Hello, Summer!

It’s almost time to celebrate the end of the semester or term, graduation, and those determined students who have persevered through A&P. We know you’re ready to check out for a while and put teaching and lab duties far out of mind. With a little bit of housekeeping and prep, it will be that much easier to relax and enjoy your summer plans.

If you’re teaching a year-long course or wrapping up a section of A&P 2, here’s a helpful reproductive system infographic that covers some of the core concepts your students need. We also have a reproductive system review worksheet you’re free to download and use with your students to help see how much they’ve retained .

When it comes time to close up your lab for the summer, we’ve got you covered with this in-depth checklist for closing biology labs. It includes reminders and instructions for:

● Live and preserved organisms

● Equipment and furniture

● Chemicals

● Safety supplies

● And links to additional resources

Ordering milestone: The end of the school year is upon you, and hopefully, you’ve completed your inventory, requested a quote, and placed your order weeks before the deadline, sometime in May or early June. Before those deadlines, take a few minutes to read “Tips to Get More for Your Anatomy and Physiology Budget .”

August and September: New Budget, New Faces, New Opportunities

Welcome back! As you’re opening your lab back up and unpacking the consumables, supplies, and equipment you ordered, we hope you’re feeling refreshed and energized about your new A&P classes.

With Carolina’s reliable lab kits, models, preserved specimens, and so many supplemental resources, you’ll have everything you need to optimize the lab experience for you and your students.

What are your biggest challenges? We bet you’ll find some of them in our article “Top 10 A&P Teacher Challenges (and How to Overcome Them) .” Our team wants to help set you up for success and share what we’ve learned through our own teaching experiences as well as our work with many, many other teachers facing issues like yours.

Since you’re now in the early stages of your new school year , it might be a good time to reflect. How did inventory and ordering feel over the last year? Did things get hectic or stressful with deadlines? We’ve written the article “Take the Stress Out of Ordering Your A&P Materials.” It has all the ordering help and reminders we’ve sprinkled throughout this guide as well as additional tips for staying on track and stress-free when it comes to getting what you need this year.

How about adding to the models you have on hand in the lab to reinforce what students are seeing? A new life-size male and female torso model, dissectible into 28 parts, is a strong centerpiece addition. Of course, we offer a variety of helpful heart models, and our pathology models will help students really understand the complexities of the human trachea and bronchi, human liver, human teeth, and more.

October and November and December: Around the Corner from the Holiday Break

It has been a long semester for you and your A&P students by this point. The holiday breaks and end of the semester will be here very soon, and there’s still so much to do that you’re feeling the crunch before midterms even come around. We’ve got plenty of resources left in the bag to help you get through and finish strong.

Since classes are really starting to intensify by now, take a few minutes to explore one of our most popular resources: our how-to video series on lab technique mastery tips. Each of these brief videos will up your game for instruction around some of the trickiest things for students to learn in the lab. We have a video with a fantastic low-tech technique for securing specimens in the dissection pan, how to safely and quickly change a scalpel blade, and more in this growing library.

Ordering milestone: Whether you’re just realizing you forgot to order something for your early fall lessons or trying to figure out how to stretch what you have on hand for a bigger class than you expected, we can help! It’s a busy time for all of us , so set a reminder and call or email us with your order as early as you can. Also, by the end of October, inventories and quote requests for spring supplies would ideally be complete.

What Else Do You Need?

We hope this A&P survival guide has connected you with essential resources for optimizing the lab experience in this high-stakes class. Before you go, take a copy of our “Maximizing Your Anatomy and Physiology Budget ” infographic with you. It has tips and information to help you stay on track with ordering supplies throughout the year and make the most of your budget.

Carolina has been a trusted, leading supplier and partner for educators for almost 100 years, and we are here for you when you need us. Browse our full line of A&P supplies, consumables, equipment, and other materials to help optimize the lab experience for you and your students. Our team is here to help with your order, answer questions about replacement parts or product information, and whatever else you might need in and around the classroom.

Additional Reading:

Nervous System

Respiratory System

Digestive System

Integumentary System

Ordering milestone: One of the last things college and university instructors and lab managers will need to remember is to finalize the spring materials order. Waiting until December, just before you head out for the holidays, is too late! To ensure you have all the materials you need when you need them, set yourself a reminder now to finalize your order by the end of November.

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