Here’s a post recapping the second semester MS1 classes! I didn’t include info about the OSCE final (except for a picture), because it was pretty much the exact same as the first one (which you can read about here). The only difference is that this time you have to have everything memorized, instead of having the H&P card for reference.
Neuroanatomy: We started off the new year with this class…after a few snow days that extended our Christmas break! So the overarching theme for neuro is: “You don’t know anything until you know everything.” The exams in this class are cumulative, which is new because none of the other classes had cumulative exams. That will probably freak you out. But when you remember the theme for this class (“You don’t know anything until you know everything”), you’ll realize that the more you learn, the better you understand the previous material. So the fact that the exams are cumulative isn’t really a big deal.
I personally loved neuro. It was my favorite class of the whole year. Dr. McCaughey does a really good job of teaching you how to think through questions. Check out this post for a sample question. The questions are very clinical and tend to be long, so it can be easy to get overwhelmed. But if you go to class and listen to him walk you through how to think through those questions, they become much more manageable. As is my custom, I didn’t buy the textbook for this class. I did use an online version to reference once in awhile, but overall his notes are sufficient.
My study method was pretty much the same as it has been for the other classes. I went to class to hear his lecture, then I’d go home (by home, I mean Starbucks) and learn that day’s material. The exams were in the beginning of the week (Monday or Tuesday) and then there were 2 exams during the last week (Monday and Friday) and a shelf exam the following Monday. So you pretty much always have a weekend to review before the exam (except for that one Friday exam). Like I said, I’d “master” (I use that term loosely) the day’s material every evening so I could spend the weekend simply reviewing all the material instead of learning new information. If I had extra time, I’d study ahead. His exams are fair. Lab is nothing to stress about–you aren’t tested in lab (meaning there are no practicals). Images from lab may appear on the exam (like 1-3 questions or so), but the main point of lab is to give you a 3D grasp of the brain.
Quick recap/advice: Go to class. Pay attention to the clinical examples. Learn how to reason through the questions. Don’t stress about lab, just use it to help you think 3D. Go over your exams with Dr. M or by yourself in the office, because you want to make sure you learn from your mistakes since the tests are cumulative.
Physiology: This class is very conceptual. Dr. Bishop is a good teacher, so I found class to be very useful. He explains things well and helps make the concept clearer. I had the book for this class from a previous 4th year student, so I referenced it. The book is good at explaining concepts, so I’d recommend getting your hands on a copy if you learn better from reading concepts. I really don’t have that much to say about this class. It’s fairly straightforward. I didn’t think it was an easy course, but Bishop is a great resource if you need further clarification. He’s at school ALL THE TIME. So definitely ask him questions.
Quick recap/advice: Go to class. Think big picture. Nail the concepts and don’t focus on little details. Ask Dr. Bishop for help. A lot of people used BRS and First Aid. Go over your exams with him or in the office. The tests aren’t cumulative, but physiology is a pretty important class, so try to make sure you understand the concepts.
Microbiology/Immunology: Next to anatomy, this was the hardest class. Some people felt it was worse than anatomy. Having said that, just be prepared to study from day 1. Yes, this class is tough, but you can do it. It’s a LOT of memorization. Immunology is more conceptual, but there’s some memorization there too (like cell markers). Micro is not at all conceptually difficult, but it is definitely an information overload. We had exams every 2 weeks, but I think that made it a lot harder. Hopefully they will switch back to weekly exams! Our exams were on Friday, so we had the weekend off. However, we still had class the day before an exam–which means a lot of information to learn the night before your test. So that was often stressful. I know many people would have preferred exams to be on Monday so you have the weekend to review. Normally, I’d agree, but I personally liked having exams on Friday for this class because I felt like I needed a weekend to rest from the intense studying during the week! So I’m not sure how they’ll change the class for next year–either way, there’s pros and cons.
This class really stressed people out. My suggestion is to know how you learn best, do that, and leave everyone else alone. If you learn best by going to class, then go. If you learn best by sitting home and memorizing everything, then stay home. But don’t stick your nose in everyone else’s business. If someone didn’t come to class, then just assume they’re doing what’s best for them. If someone goes to every class, then assume that’s what’s best for them. Good for them. Good for you. No one is better for going to class, no one is better for skipping. You’re all just doing what you need to do to get through the class!
And please remember that we all got into this profession to help people. Your classmates are people. Help them. Share resources. If you went to class and learned some valuable info, share it with those who missed. If you stayed home from class and discovered a helpful resource, share it with those who were in class. Maybe by not sharing resources, you can potentially ensure a higher exam score for yourself and a lower score for others, but that’s the only benefit…and at what cost? On the flip side, if you share resources, you can help yourself and help others. Don’t let the pressure of getting good grades drown out your obligation as a human being to be a good friend/person. People trump grades. Don’t forget that.
Quick recap/advice: Use First Aid and any other helpful mnemonics. Force yourself to take study breaks–you need them. HELP EACH OTHER. Ask Dr. Walker for help–he’s very knowledgeable. He tests straight from his notes, so try to memorize them. Realize that you probably won’t memorize everything perfectly–memorize as much as you can as well as you can. Do your best and then let it go (*cue Frozen soundtrack). Go to Starbucks to study, keep your sanity, and make new friends. Or study at home or school or whatever floats your boat. Just don’t let this class consume you–that’s not healthy and it will just stress you out.
Overall advice for MS1s: Keep perspective. Be grateful you have this opportunity. Remember that feeling you had when you got your acceptance letter? Yeah, don’t let the stress and info overload of med school make you forget that feeling. Try to learn as much as you can. You never know how this knowledge could one day help a patient. Also, very important: figure out how you study best. Most people can’t get away with cramming the night before an exam anymore. If you study best by making notecards, then go for it. I personally get stressed out by notecards because they take me too long to make. So I don’t do notecards very often. But you know yourself. And if your study technique suddenly isn’t working for a class, then change your study technique. Ask for help as often as you need it. The faculty want you to succeed. Help each other and don’t forget to be a nice person. Take time to exercise and have fun. Study breaks are a must–take them and don’t feel guilty about it. Try to see the joy and beauty in each day. Notice the people around you and do what you can to help them. If you keep perspective and choose joy, then your first year of med school can be fun. Shocking, I know. I love to see the gasps and disbelief when I tell people that this year was the best year of my life. :)
And as always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns about med school, you should talk to someone important and knowledgeable…like Jose Espada. If you can’t get ahold of him, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org ;)