The first year of medicine was interesting. We recently received our final grades, having been warned not to leave the country until their release… seems an appropriate time take a look back.
What did we study?
- Introduction to Medicine
- Infection & Immunity
- Population Health
- Physical Exam/Interviewing
- Patient Centered Care Integration & Application
That’s quite a bit of material to cover in 10 months. It is surprising how much of it has stuck, far more than in undergrad. My previous training made some topics easier than others. Having little previous anatomy definitely made certain subjects more difficult. Additionally, our anatomy is taught piecemeal; only those areas relevant to the system under study are covered. This leads to a lot of confusion in understanding the relations of the systems of the body. Some other schools cover the whole of anatomy prior to engaging each system, perhaps this is a better approach, but I’m sure it has its own shortcomings.
Was first year difficult?
This is an interesting question. Yes and no. There is a ton to know, but it isn’t hard to pass. There was definitely a lot a material, but it was not that conceptually difficult. The main issue I found was devoting enough time to studying while trying maintaining a balance in life. At the same time, despite the volume of material, with the pass/fail system you can scrape by. You are harming your future self as you will have to know the material in the future, but it can and is done by some.
Another aspect was that the lectures were not sufficient to become comfortable with the material. I used a number of other resources to complement what was taught. I found that a good overview early in a block was very useful, for example skimming Toronto Notes or USMLE Step 1 prep material. These gave the larger picture, allowing the material taught to be put in context. For certain clinical aspects videos on YouTube were of great help and I found books outside those recommended that better fit my needs. Thus, the lectures formed a framework and introduced the material, but I felt other resources were very useful in setting the context of the material and consolidating the information.
The above may seem like a lot of extra work, but it was worth it. This made the material easier to understand and organize; hopefully establishing a strong base to build from in the coming years.
(A few resources: Future Teaching Physicians – http://www.youtube.com/user/tomiwa007, Dr. Najeeb – http://www.youtube.com/user/DoctorNajeeb, Students of Medicine – http://www.youtube.com/user/StudentsOfMedicine, First Aid for the USMLE Step 1, Toronto Notes 2012)