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Can you really not prepare for med school?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by onyisraw, 05.14.14.

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  1. onyisraw

    onyisraw 2+ Year Member

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    I was looking at the first year curriculum for some medical schools and noticed than they take a bunch of sciences like physiology, immunology, anatomy, cell biology, genetics, etc.

    My question is how can one not prepare if many of these classes are offered during undergrad and are available for students if they wish to take them. What changes between the nature of a medical school course and one you would take in UG? Physiology is physiology. Anatomy doesn't change, nor does embryology.

    Could one prepare for these if they wished to?
     
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  3. Boolean

    Boolean

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    Undergraduate is but a drop in the vast ocean that is medical education. Medical school reflects this. The topics you know in undergrad will still be used in medical school, just in a vastly more detailed manner.
     
  4. tantacles

    tantacles Lifetime Donor SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

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    One could. But since one who has been through this already suggests that one should not prepare, one would be wise to listen.
     
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  5. pfaction

    pfaction 5+ Year Member

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    Your entire undergraduate education forms merely introductions to the chapters taught in medical school.
     
  6. Bromide

    Bromide Banned Banned Account on Hold

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    Why would it be better not to prepare?
     
  7. tantacles

    tantacles Lifetime Donor SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

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    Why would it be better TO prepare? As many have likely told you, your preparation prior to medical school is unlikely to serve you well. There is too much information, and you are extremely unlikely to be prepared to guess at the priorities of the PhDs teaching you in the basic sciences.

    If you see great benefit in preparing to reduce your own anxiety, I'm going to encourage you to do so. However, generations of medical students have taken vacations during the summer before they matriculated, and at least 95% of those students made it through.
     
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  8. Boolean

    Boolean

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    A possible downside to preparing prior is improper preparation. It's much easier to learn something right once than it is to learn something incorrectly, and then learn it correctly.
     
  9. Bromide

    Bromide Banned Banned Account on Hold

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    But I feel like studying for the Step 1 Exam could be pretty useful.
     
  10. tantacles

    tantacles Lifetime Donor SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

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    If you feel that way, go ahead! No one is stopping you. Again, I'm giving you the advice of many medical students, but if you wish to ignore this advice, studying for Step I this summer will not kill you. However, I, and many others, have serious doubts that anything you study this summer will be of any use.
     
  11. jb94mg

    jb94mg SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor 2+ Year Member

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    If I understood the OP correctly, he meant to ask if taking some of those types of classes - cell biology, human physiology, histology, immunology, etc. - during your undergraduate years would be beneficial in terms of preparing for medical school, not if they'd be good subjects to study the summer before medical school. I'd be curious to know if current medical students think it'd be a good idea. I've read previous threads on here indicating that it is.
     
  12. wjs010

    wjs010 2+ Year Member

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    Okay I sort of already knew this, but the way you put it scares the **** out of me
     
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  13. tantacles

    tantacles Lifetime Donor SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

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    The undergraduate classes do not have the same level of depth or focus as medical school classes.
     
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  14. jb94mg

    jb94mg SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor 2+ Year Member

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    So, you're probably better off focusing on other interests while you have the time, instead of bothering with trying to get a "head start"?
     
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  15. tantacles

    tantacles Lifetime Donor SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

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    Yes. Not to mention that while you can certainly prime yourself with some material, you're likely to forget a lot of it unless your long term memory is truly outstanding.
     
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  16. Ismet

    Ismet PGY-fun SDN Administrator 5+ Year Member

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    Taking one course in a subject area does nothing to prep you for what you see in med school. My undergrad biochem did nothing to prepare me for med school biochem, mainly because it lasted all of 2 weeks with a similar amount of material as a semester course. I felt prepared for the neuro course in med school because I was a neuro major, meaning I took neuro courses for more than 2 years and had a lot of depth in neurophysiology and anatomy. However, med school neuro was still quite difficult because of the clinical and pharmacology components. Suffice to say, not much you do in undergrad can prepare you for med school. Maybe if you majored in genetics or neuro or immuno, you have a better handle on the basics, but that background knowledge isn't going to make med school classes substantially easier.
     
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  17. Microglia

    Microglia 2+ Year Member

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    Maybe it's just me, but I find that my undergrad courses were way more detailed than my med school courses thus far, but covered nowhere near the same breadth. I end up with weird gaps of knowing way too much about certain slides and nothing about others haha.
     
  18. onyisraw

    onyisraw 2+ Year Member

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    I appreciate your advice and input.
     
  19. onyisraw

    onyisraw 2+ Year Member

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    Personally, I'm not gonna psyche myself out and not study if that's what I want to do. But I guess I do understand that unless your memory is amazing you won't benefit that much. Any other opinions or thoughts?
     
  20. Boolean

    Boolean

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    That's somewhat what I meant, my apologies for a lack of clarification!
     
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  21. mehc012

    mehc012 Big Damn Hero 2+ Year Member

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    Anki.
    What about a subject like Anatomy, where the amount of material to be covered truly is finite and limited in breadth? OK, I understand that yes, you can keep tracing nerves and blood vessels smaller and smaller and get more and more specific, but I've never understood how taking anatomy in UG could not be helpful in med (especially as it is often cited as the bane of M1). And I find that, with Anki, I do remember even the small details from last summer's Anatomy course. Will there be more to learn when I get there? I'm sure. But I can't see how the head-start I've got could be anything but a benefit, especially as I needed to take a class anyway and I enjoyed the heck out of it!
     
  22. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    Far better that you learn to cook and/or develop some good health habits (physical activity, sleep, hobbies) that will sustain you through the M1 year and beyond.
     
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  23. NickNaylor

    NickNaylor Daisy the Dog Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

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    Anatomy is but one class and one of questionable significance to your everyday practice outside of surgery - at least to the degree that you are taught it as a M1.

    No one disagrees that there might be a benefit to prestudying. The real point people make is that there are a million better things you could do with your time


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  24. Wompuscat

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    So, while I haven't applied to medical school as of yet, several of my extremely close friends are M1's and M2's. While it's true, undergrad cannot truly prepare you for the breadth of information you will encounter in medical school, certain courses could be beneficial in providing a basic understanding of the subject. However, some classes can better prepare you than others, especially if you know the professor has a rigorous curriculum. Last semester I took Pharmacology as an elective with one of the most notoriously difficult professors at my university. While the course was incredibly difficult(the course was a mix of undergraduates and graduate students, with one exam yielding a high score of 79%) I learned an IMMENSE amount, and I feel as though when I encounter the class again I will be fairly prepared. I actually studied with my friend who was an M2 taking pharm at the time, and the information we were learning was actually quite comparable. However, there will not be many classes in undergraduate studies that will really prepare you for medical school, more just courses that provide you a base upon which you will build a vast array of knowledge. Especially anatomy.....there's undergraduate anatomy......and then there's gross anatomy, which is another beast entirely. I found undergrad anatomy to be fairly easy, and really lacking in depth. Almost no muscle origins and insertions, and while we covered major muscles, nerves, and blood vessels, a huge amount of information was still absent. I would not stress yourself out attempting to prepare yourself for those classes. I do not feel anatomy nor physiology(the standard level courses) would have been very beneficial in terms of medical school preparation.
     
  25. Spinach Dip

    Spinach Dip Delicious with nachos 2+ Year Member

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    If you get your PhD in Cellular Biology, that might be a good prep for med school.

    But that's beyond the grasp of most undergrads.
     
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  26. pfaction

    pfaction 5+ Year Member

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    I cannot agree more. In fact I think the order you listed them in is also perfect. It's been a very stressful M1 but I learned to cook a lot of diverse food, toned up and kept the stress from eating my body alive with a fixed exercise schedule, (at least tried) maintained a decent sleep schedule, and engage in some hobbies every day or other day.

    Sanity and body above grades.
     
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  27. alamo4

    alamo4 Dudeist 2+ Year Member

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    If you want to look at stuff before med school, I would suggest the Acland anatomy videos or subscribe to Pathoma and watch those videos on the treadmill, and read some stuff on the history of medicine, like the very good biography of Osler that came out a few years ago. The current medical education system is based on what they were doing at Hopkins at Oslers time, and many of the current debates about medical education and healthcare were going on then too. They don't really teach this stuff, but it's interesting and gives some perspective. Osler also has great essays and stuff that can get you excited about medicine, and they get quoted all the time, so it's nice to know their context.

    I found looking at stuff before school started to be very helpful. It seems like many have the opposite advice, but it was good for me and made my time more relaxing. Don't try to memorize things, but it helps get some perspective, in medical school it's easy to be like someone in the woods with a magnifying glass learning varieties of beetles, without seeing the forest. The more passes through the material, the better, and I'm a slow learner and poor studier.
     
  28. WingedOx

    WingedOx AND USE A PRETTY FONT 5+ Year Member

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    it's not that you can't prepare for medical school, it's that any material preparation you do will be covered within days once you're an actual M1/M2. The ROI of trying to study/prepare early is so low that you'll have wished you'd done something more personally fulfilling with your time.

    It sounds cliche, but it's true... exposing yourself to other diverse experiences will make you a far better physician than having a slightly better grasp of histology.
     
  29. Doctor Strange

    Doctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme Lifetime Donor 2+ Year Member

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    I was a pharmacology major in undergrad and took anatomy, physio, immuno, pharm, etc. as a required part of my degree sequence. I took these classes with PharmD students, so they were all essentially graduate level classes.

    It's actually come in pretty handy during MS1. Not to the extent that I don't have to study or anything, but it has certainly helped me to have seen things before and use that as a foundation for building additional knowledge. It's always nice to not be seeing everything for the first time ever. I would honestly say the most useful thing about my degree is being very familiar with drug classes, drug names, and common forms of drug therapies that are associated with diseases that we learn about. It's helped me see the bigger picture and avoid being caught up in the small, low yield factoids.

    EDIT: I guess my point is that, yeah, it was helpful that I took these courses, but I wouldn't go out of my way to take them for the sole purpose of maybe preparing for medical school.
     
  30. WingedOx

    WingedOx AND USE A PRETTY FONT 5+ Year Member

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    The above bolded is basically the most important skill you can have in the first two years of med school. Getting good at that was why M2 was probably the easier year for me than M1 despite having a lot more material to cover (USMLE excluded)
     
  31. Microglia

    Microglia 2+ Year Member

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    This. If there is one thing that will up your grades, it's this. 1000 times this.
     
  32. ronnicus

    ronnicus 2+ Year Member

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    Diverse experiences like what? I was going to commute to this anatomy course with cadavers at the local CC senior year because I heard it would help a lot in med school. Are you saying there's something better I could be doing the year before I matriculate?
     
  33. moop

    moop 1K Member Banned Account on Hold

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    Did you read the thread?
     
  34. ronnicus

    ronnicus 2+ Year Member

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    I should've been more clear- I'm a bio major so I still have to take biology classes. Now I can take fun and easy classes like Tropical Ecology and Vertebrate Field Studies or I can take the notoriously hard ones like the Biochem series and Genetics and the Anatomy class I have to commute to. I was planning on saving these courses for senior year so they'd be fresh in my mind when I matriculate.

    But obviously if you guys are saying these classes won't help much at all, I won't take them, but what would I do with the free time I have now obtained from taking the easy fun classes? Med schools don't look at senior year grades and activities right? So why not use that time to instead make the first year a bit easier?
     
  35. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    Actually you aren't too far off.

    The key difference between the undergraduate course vs. the medical school course is the level of depth of detail that you have to master, as well as tailoring of the course more towards medicine, bc of Step 1. For example, a Biochemistry course in undergrad that tends to more emphasize a chemistry/chemical structure perspective, vs. a medical school Biochemistry course that tends to emphasize human biochemical diseases.

    But yes, if you take the undergraduate version of your medical school course esp. in MS-1, you will be slightly ahead of your peers but it won't be a huge tangible difference. Your mileage will greatly vary however depending on the course - for example, if you were to take an undergraduate Anatomy course, you will be much farther ahead starting off, than someone learning Gross Anatomy in med school with no prior exposure at all. But this is the exception rather than the rule.
     
  36. ChEMD

    ChEMD 2+ Year Member

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    All of this. But then you have to ask yourself, is it really worth it? I think the reason med students always tell undergrads that they shouldn't try to prepare extra for medical school is because people have been doing just fine and even excelling without doing so. But all of us would kill to have the free time that you are trying to give up because you want to try and get a little ahead. So while it could make first year easier, you could also be just fine without doing extra prep, and instead spend your last bits of free time doing other things that you enjoy, things that you might not have time for during medical school.
     
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  37. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    Correct, the yield of knowing things ahead of everyone else (who hasn't studied yet) is quite low here. The difference of things that matter for all this extra effort: higher class exam scores or higher Step 1 score is probably negligible in this case. I imagine it would help anxiety level somewhat, esp. in Gross Anatomy in which rote memorization and repeated exposure is critical. The key here though is everyone's studying stamina is different, everyone's burnout threshold is different, everyone's way they process information is different, etc. So to say don't study at all before MS-1 as if it's all encompassing and applies to everyone is silly.
     
  38. xffan624

    xffan624 2+ Year Member

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    I just finished my first year of medical school. Those blessed weeks that I have before MS2 begins are precious to me. Even though I have a project I will be doing over the summer, I will still milk every bit relaxation I can from it. The first rule of medical school -- relax when you have the down time. Start this trend early. I remember seeing a speech from a chaplain who was embedded with the Marines in Iraq. This was well before I joined the military but it stuck with me. He said Marines would sleep anywhere and he had the pictures to prove it of them sprawled out in glaring daylight on the top of a humvee on a base. I understood this when I deployed. Rest when it's available, because you don't know when it will be available again.
     
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  39. moop

    moop 1K Member Banned Account on Hold

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    Don't think they mean it's completely useless, just that you shouldn't expect to help you get a super head start on med school material. Familiarity will never hurt, though. I don't think many can make the precise case that someone with some knowledge of biochem pathways and stuff won't feel a little more comfortable than someone who hasn't heard of anything much of anything. It's a cost-benefit thing, though. If you really have to go out of your way by doing those classes, it's worth a second consideration, but the consensus here is that you shouldn't be studying the SUMMER before med school to try and outgun other people. Regular prereq prep is a completely different story.
     
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  40. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    THIS.:thumbup:
     
  41. mehc012

    mehc012 Big Damn Hero 2+ Year Member

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    *shrug* I happen to be pretty darn interested in surgery (not to mention, I've seen anatomy knowledge turn out to be pretty useful in the ED, too) Plus, as I've said in other threads, if you enjoy it, why not do it?

    Why does everyone think they can define what is a 'better' use of someone else's leisure time than doing something they enjoy and which excites them about their future?

    In this case, we're talking about taking classes, which is something most people have to do anyway - so why not take relevant ones? I need to take as many BCPM courses as possible to boost my GPA before applying. I also found Anatomy straight-up fun, despite the quantity of information.

    EDIT: THEY GOT RID OF THE *shrug* SMILEY?!?!? I just used it earlier today! It's my most frequent smiley! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooo
    Also, if they're going to get rid of any, how about all of the godawful, undecipherable, cheezy-looking new ones?
     
  42. Ismet

    Ismet PGY-fun SDN Administrator 5+ Year Member

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    :shrug:

    Use : instead of *
     
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  43. DermViser

    DermViser 5+ Year Member

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    Many people are "interested" in surgery. MS-3 General Surgery truly separates those who are "interested" vs. those who truly want to be surgeons. Heck, even then Surgery residency weeds out many wannabe surgeons.
     
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  44. WingedOx

    WingedOx AND USE A PRETTY FONT 5+ Year Member

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    Because people whose leisure time isn't separated from medicine BURN. OUT. HARD.

    Pre-meds always want to try to win arguments with students, attendings and residents who are farther along and nearly always give the same advice on this topic. The truth is, you can't understand the emotional toll that medicine and medical education takes on you until you're head first into the profession. Medicine is rewarding, but it's also draining, frustrating, irritating, and extremely stressful. You WILL get sick of it, and when that happens you need other things in your life to fall back on for personal enjoyment. I love neuro pathways and complex neuro findings, but that stuff stays at the office once I clock out.

    ...

    I probably shouldn't give this example because it's hyperbolic, but a friend of mine was interviewing a potential med student, and asked her about her leisure activities. The only thing the applicant could come up with was "reading science journals." Needless to say she was rejected outright. Honestly, the faculty interview I had at the school I eventually attended was 45 minutes of talking hockey.
     
  45. mehc012

    mehc012 Big Damn Hero 2+ Year Member

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    Right, sorry...I was on a different forum all day which uses asterisks...then when it didn't work I searched for it in the smileys window and didn't see it. In my defense, my friend's birthday was last night and 'twas a very long night of non-medicine-related extracurriculars, so I was tired :laugh:
     
  46. Perrotfish

    Perrotfish Has an MD in Horribleness 7+ Year Member

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    The reason preparing for medical school is a bad idea is not because you can't learn the material outside of medical school, its because the material you learn during the first two years of medical school is disproportionately the kind of useless minutiae that no one retains. I had biochem in undergrad, and it wasn't all that different in medical school, but it also wasn't easier in medical school because I had lost most of the knowledge waiting for med school to start. You won't remember the insertions of the muscles of the hand, or the finer points of the Krebs cycle, because the brain is not designed to retain information it has no use for or emotional connection with. If you learn it you'll forget it. Then you'll take it in medical school and forget it all again.

    Don't waste your time pre-learning a bunch of nonsense that you shouldn't really need to learn once. Its OK just to focus on hobbies outside of medicine. If you do insist on learning something prior to medical school, then focus on something that physicians need but either aren't taught or are taught badly. Some recommendations:

    1) Languages. If you're not fluent in Spanish and you're trying to prep for medical school drop all your other plans and start learning Spanish. Translators are a myth made up by the liberal media, at least while you're a resident. You need to know Spanish or you will be doing veterinary medicine on a large portion of you patients. Travel abroad and go to language school if you have the money (www.ecela.com). If you have more human finances Skype languages exchanges, rosetta stone, and the Spanish version of Harry Potter will usually do the trick.

    2) Learn personal finance. Seriously: start with the millionaire next door and the boggleheads guide to investing. Then move on to white coat investor's book, and read through his recommended reading list. If you want to take a course, take on in accounting.

    3) If you really want more classes, take them in subjects that medical schools should teach, but don't. Nutrition would top my list. Statistics is also good.

    4) If you're really long on free time and completely out of ideas, get involved with clinical research.
     
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  47. mehc012

    mehc012 Big Damn Hero 2+ Year Member

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    I respectfully disagree that you are doomed to forget everything you learn. That's a completely depressing view of education (and why I switched to Anki). It's been a year since my anatomy course, and I still remember the hand muscle insertions (I actually know them better than I did last year because they weren't on the test, so I've learned them since then).

    However, Spanish and Stats are awesome suggestions! I'm partway through Harry Potter right now (I used Ender's Game when I was in HS, which was actually better, but I can't seem to find copies anymore). I actually plan to message you on the ecela school you keep suggesting, as I'm planning to do something of the sort in my final summer before med school.
     
  48. MrLogan13

    MrLogan13 2+ Year Member

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    I am currently in a graduate program working on my masters degree. This program is run by a large medical school in the midwest. I have taken a few classes with the medical students, including gross anatomy, embryology, histology, and neuro. I have TAed gross for med students and will TA neuro next year. I can attest that the material is no more difficult than anything I did in undergrad, not per se (IMO). However, the thing that many students find difficult is the volume of information in a short amount of time, since many first year classes are in 7-10 week blocks (some shorter). It comes fast and furious, and that is what some people have difficulty with.
     
  49. CherryRedDracul

    CherryRedDracul 2 Chainz Muscular Dystrophy 2+ Year Member

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    I agree that it's the volume that's the most difficult to deal with.
     
  50. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    That's a great plan if you want to (re)apply in the year after you graduate. Taking the fluffy courses will not assure the adcom that you can handle a rigorous courseload and you may be passed over in favor of applicants who took the tough stuff in their junior year.

    What this thread is about is not "taking classes in college" but what do to with one's time away from school during the few months between the end of college and the start of med school when one has already been admitted to med school.
     
  51. BABSstudent

    BABSstudent Established Member 5+ Year Member

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    Here's my example because I took undergraduate micro classes.

    Undergrad microbiology: you learn mostly about bacteria, how they make energy, <20 bacteria to know in detail, go into viruses and focus on HIV and flu, and then end the year with a general talk about prions. You have four months to learn it.

    Medical school microbiology: here is every type of bacteria that causes human illness, learn every symptom, what type of media is needed to grow it, what it looks like on X-ray. Then learn every type of fungus and the illnesses they cause, what symptoms look like, etc. Then you cover every family of virus and what they cause, what vectors exist, then every prion we know of and what they cause and every parasite. We should also know what type of test we should run to help determine the cause of infection. Add in learning what type of antibiotic to give for each bacteria, a secondary backup antibiotic in case a person is allergic, what antiviral to use for what or which ones to use if someone has two viral infections, what antifungals to use, what vaccines are available and when they should be given and it becomes even more difficult. We should also know the pathophysiology of all of this. Then make a final that is cumulative to make sure everyone knows the material that we covered in two months.

    There's virtually zero overlap other than the name of both courses being microbiology. In medical school, our first two lectures were basically my entire undergrad course speed up to be covered in 3 hours and 20 minutes.
     
    mke520, youmed and xffan624 like this.

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