What do you think is the most challenging class in med school?

bubabugster

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I haven't started med school yet, but I think anatomy would be the hardest. Soooo many structure, nerves, blood vessels, muscles, head and neck. People have failed it before-- is it THAT bad?!!!! I've also been hearing a lot about path. being pretty brutal. I'm interested to know what stood out for you as: thank God that class is over!!
 
W

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This is a tough question because we have fairly distinct class material depending on med school. For instance, we have Gross Anatomy, Physiology, and Biochem as monster classes in a traditional curriculum; but those who have systems-based curricula will instead have blocks dedicated to specific systems with the subjects sprinkled into each of them.

Anatomy in and of itself is low yield for boards and is straight memorization with little application.

I'd say whatever your school calls pathophys because it is pretty detail-oriented and needs to be memorized most extensively for step 1.

For the whole curriculum? Prolly medicine clerkship during MS 3.
 

Bertelman

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I'd say it depends on how you define challenging.

Way more material than you think you can memorize? Pathology/Pathophysiology.

Material that doesn't lend itself to memorization, but must be comprehended? Physiology

I know Anatomy is often cited as the hardest, but at least in my experience, that's just an early view by MS1s. I think most would admit the rigors of 2nd year are much tougher, at least with respect to pace. We were given nearly 7 months to master anatomy. During MS2, we had ~1 month per organ system to master Pharm, Pathophys, clinical presentations, etc. As soon as one track ended, we'd have to jump right into the next.
 
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MartianOddity

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So far I find Anatomy to be the most challenging course, but I am merely a lowly MS1 :). I know for sure that second year will be much harder next year in my Polish med school with Histology and Biochemistry. Then I'll probably lose all of what's called social life as I'm one of those who already have a harder time studying to reach the same level of knowledge.
 
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I'm an MS2, and I thought neuro was the hardest, though that my have just been the instruction at my school. Based strictly on the material, I would actually agree with the first years that anatomy is the hardest. I'm a conceptual/process kind of person, so even though there's more information in pathophy, I feel like I can more easily organize it and make sense of it, while with anatomy, I felt like I just had to memorize stuff. Ick.
 

excalibur

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I agree with Bertelman.

Preclinical: Pathology, hands down. Anatomy was a distant second for me.

Clinicals: Surgery, not b/c of the material but the hours were brutal and left you tired with no time or energy to read
 

psipsina

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I think the difficulty of a class is entirely dependent on how poorly or well it is taught. Anatomy was made much easier by and extremely supportive staff who really gave everything to being our anatomy proffessors for a semester. Classes where the lecturer obviously hasn't put in alot of effort or doesn't like teaching become alot harder. For instance my current biochem vs neuro experience is all about the proffessors, we had our pretest review for neuro on thursday in which the proffessors spent two hours with newly created powerpoints going over what they thought were the most important concepts for the block and they had a seperate after hours review for the lab component vs biochem where the proffessors didn't even show up for us to pose questions to them let alone do a formal review . .. this has made neuro a much easier course than by all rights it should be, and has made biochem the challenge. Poor organization of classes can also screw you, the second years at our school have a course where the information from different lecturers is so diametrically opposed that when taking a test they have to figure out which proff is asking the specific question so they know how to answer it, because the answer would be different for a different proff . . . so basically it depends on the quality of the teaching at your institution and between the different departments educating you, not so much on material itself.
 

Law2Doc

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I think the difficulty of a class is entirely dependent on how poorly or well it is taught.

Strongly agree with this. The teacher is going to make or break the course. And I've personally seen some correlation between researchers/PhDs being not as good at teaching as clinicians/MDs. A research oriented PhD who thinks teaching is a chore and wants to get back to the lab is often going to convey the subject matter poorly and get bogged down in details, while an MD who loves to explain things and sees lectures as a fun diversion tends to do better at conveying the big picture. (There are numerous exceptions in both directions, of course).

Additionally, the more interesting the subject matter, the less hard it will appear, and thus while some second year courses are substantively harder/denser, they tend to be more clinically applicable and so students tend to be able to latch onto them better. Particularly so for less science oriented types.
 

ForbiddenComma

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I think the most challenging class is the diversity class, hands down.

Coming up with new ways to say "Diversity is good" and "Empathy is good" every week gets harder and harder... pshew!
 

Tired Pigeon

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Hardest course: many worthy nominees for this title, but definitely NOT anatomy.
 

Sophie

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A little over halfway through 1st year, I'd say (at my school at least) Anatomy is one of the easiest, and most fun, classes. Despite being difficult, Pathology is my favorite subject because it's really interesting.

The most difficult, imo, is biochemistry. We're systems based, thank god, so I never get a REALLY heavy dose of biochemistry. But the little snippets I do get are the least interesting, most detail-intensive, hardest bits of med school. I just wish it would go away. :(
 
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71263

The tough first year classes were Cell bio, Anatomy, and Biochem, but the hardest by far was Neuroscience. As a second year, I find Microbiology and Pharmacology to be the 2 toughest ones.
 
W

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A little over halfway through 1st year, I'd say (at my school at least) Anatomy is one of the easiest, and most fun, classes. Despite being difficult, Pathology is my favorite subject because it's really interesting.

The most difficult, imo, is biochemistry. We're systems based, thank god, so I never get a REALLY heavy dose of biochemistry. But the little snippets I do get are the least interesting, most detail-intensive, hardest bits of med school. I just wish it would go away. :(

Anatomy = fun? :eek: Biochemistry is probably entirely dependent on the teacher.

The tough first year classes were Cell bio, Anatomy, and Biochem, but the hardest by far was Neuroscience. As a second year, I find Microbiology and Pharmacology to be the 2 toughest ones.

I hope micro is the toughest. Neuro has been tough for me so far, but I think that the professor is gentle enough to keep it manageable.
 

humuhumu

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And I've personally seen some correlation between researchers/PhDs being not as good at teaching as clinicians/MDs. A research oriented PhD who thinks teaching is a chore and wants to get back to the lab is often going to convey the subject matter poorly and get bogged down in details, while an MD who loves to explain things and sees lectures as a fun diversion tends to do better at conveying the big picture. (There are numerous exceptions in both directions, of course).

At least at the two schools I'm most familiar with, there are so many exceptions to this rule that it's not even generally true. Maybe it's true at Research-1 institutions.
 

vtucci

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I'd say it depends on how you define challenging.

Way more material than you think you can memorize? Pathology/Pathophysiology.

Material that doesn't lend itself to memorization, but must be comprehended? Physiology

I know Anatomy is often cited as the hardest, but at least in my experience, that's just an early view by MS1s. I think most would admit the rigors of 2nd year are much tougher, at least with respect to pace. We were given nearly 7 months to master anatomy. During MS2, we had ~1 month per organ system to master Pharm, Pathophys, clinical presentations, etc. As soon as one track ended, we'd have to jump right into the next.

I disagree. Anatomy was the hardest. We had about four months for anatomy- I wish I had 7 months.

The pace of 2nd year is more intensive but much more interesting. I don't feel like path is memorization nearly in the same way anatomy was. Path at least gives you a context and if you are in med school, you should be interested in the disease state.
 
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71263

I hope micro is the toughest. Neuro has been tough for me so far, but I think that the professor is gentle enough to keep it manageable.

In general, I think 2nd year classes are much more doable than first year classes. I dont feel the same pressure as I did last year academically. The hard part lies in doing well on Step 1...:scared:
 

Law2Doc

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At least at the two schools I'm most familiar with, there are so many exceptions to this rule that it's not even generally true. Maybe it's true at Research-1 institutions.

Just calling it as I'm seeing it. Obviously the sampling of professors I've had is not going to be a statistically significant portion of the nation.
 

SanDiegoSOD

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I think the difficulty of a class is entirely dependent on how poorly or well it is taught.

I think this is true in many cases, and is why I am a strong advocate of self-learning. Cut out the middle man and go straight to the books. You can start with a basic understanding from a good textbook, then learn the most important stuff from review books (BRS, etc). Then if you're worried about grades, you can go back to Core Notes or online lecture notes and pick out the random stuff that professors emphasize and are likely to put on a test.
This won't work for everyone, but I've personally found it to be much more efficient than trying to make sense of material that may or may not be taught well. It also allows you to blow off 8am class and get a decent amount of shut-eye at night :)
 

Sophie

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Anatomy = fun? :eek:

I think it's because our Anatomy department is filled with some of our best professors (so they teach really well), and they don't try to trick us. Everything they test on is straightforward, unlike some of the comments I've seen on SDN about having to identify some insignificant part that's been cut out of the body and flipped upside-down (or something like that :p ). That would be hellish.
 

lord_jeebus

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Surgery

The shelf is a monster, and there's a constant struggle to find time and strength to read.

Plus the stuff you get pimped on in the OR is not the stuff you're reading for the shelf, so you have to prepare for that as well.

I don't think Medicine clerkship is nearly as bad; I have more time to read and there's much more overlap with preclinical courses.
 

Bertelman

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I disagree. Anatomy was the hardest. We had about four months for anatomy- I wish I had 7 months.

The pace of 2nd year is more intensive but much more interesting. I don't feel like path is memorization nearly in the same way anatomy was. Path at least gives you a context and if you are in med school, you should be interested in the disease state.

It's been mentioned by a few now, but the pleasant anatomy experience I had was directly attributable to the amazing course director and other faculty. Seriously, every year this crew gets "favorite faculty" awards. The outlines are impeccable, material you are expected to learn is indisputable, and overall they are a great group of instructors. Overall, that class runs like a well-oiled machine.

I think the answer to the OP's question often depends on the school they attend.
 
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PenguinHead

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For first year classes I though Anatomy was hardest. We did it in about 2.5 months.

I haven't started neuro yet though.
 

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We're systems based as well, and do the pertinent anatomy, embryology, and histology when that course comes on the schedule...but i couldnt imagine taking one huge histology course, i hate it enough as is it with the 2-3 lectures per course :p Everything just looks the same!! AHHHHH

Histology = bane of my existence
 

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I haven't started med school yet, but I think anatomy would be the hardest. Soooo many structure, nerves, blood vessels, muscles, head and neck. People have failed it before-- is it THAT bad?!!!! I've also been hearing a lot about path. being pretty brutal. I'm interested to know what stood out for you as: thank God that class is over!!
We do organ blocks at my school. So far, neuromusculoskeletal has been hardest. Renal was probably the easiest (and the most fun). I miss renal block. :(
 

MSHell

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The tough first year classes were Cell bio, Anatomy, and Biochem, but the hardest by far was Neuroscience. As a second year, I find Microbiology and Pharmacology to be the 2 toughest ones.

I agree wholeheartedly. Neuroscience was pretty bad and now micro and pharma are killing me slowly. However, I do enjoy 2nd year more.

I'm gonna have to disagree about the "teacher-dependent" thing. Our micro teacher is great (interesting lecturer and lots of clinically relevent stuff), but it doesn't make memorizing for the exam any easier.
 

Sean2tall

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I can totally understand how people would say anatomy, or anything in first year for that matter, depending on your personal style of learning, since that is the period during which you have to get used to the med school routine.

At least in my opinion, everything else for the rest of the first two years is just continuing to plug away at the whole studying, memorizing, and only sort of understanding stuff before moving on routine. By the end of the second year, I felt like I could keep doing it on cruise control without attending much class and having the hang of what would be on the test.

Now, hardest "class" of all 4 years? I would say OB - comparable or sometimes worse than surgery hours, but without the possibility of ever getting your workload completely done and going home. Not to scare anybody who hasn't done rotations yet, because it's nothing in med school is really that rough when it all comes down to it.


Sean
 

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I think it depends on your perspective:

When taking into account the fact that you're a first year who's never seen a class harder than Orgo1 and you're all bright eyed and bushy tailed, and then you get a nice welcoming raping into the medical field, I'd have to say Anatomy is the toughest.
In terms of sheer course material, I'll go with Path.
In terms of toughest for me to grasp, probably Pharm.
Plus, second year is MUCH harder than first, and you've got boards in the back of your head. So clearly the combo of classes you take is going to influence this.
 

tacrum43

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So far, I'd say Anatomy. But Biochem is giving it a run for its money. Neuro is hard at some schools.

It probably depends on the person, school and the professors.
 

getunconcsious

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I haven't started med school yet, but I think anatomy would be the hardest. Soooo many structure, nerves, blood vessels, muscles, head and neck. People have failed it before-- is it THAT bad?!!!! I've also been hearing a lot about path. being pretty brutal. I'm interested to know what stood out for you as: thank God that class is over!!

I'd have to say that this probably depends on the person. I'm an MS2, and thus have taken anatomy and also the better part of path. Most people have cited that as the hardest class. Pathology is what I want to do as a specialty, and thus it comes pretty easy to me and I focus on it a lot. As such, it's been the most enjoyable class and my highest grade thus far. Anatomy for me was a nightmare, and I ended up marginal passing, so I'd say that's the worst by far. With that said, here's for my personal rank list of the classes I most wanted/want out of my life:

1) Anatomy
2) Neuroscience
3) Histology
4) Physical diagnosis
5) Pharmacology

The best 5 classes, IMHO:
1) Pathology
2) Physiology
3) Microbiology
4) Genetics
5) Behavioral Science


I don't know how informative it will be though, b/c i suspect that the top 5 offenders (and also favorite classes) are most likely different for each person. You'll find where you fit in, everyone seems to anyways! Good luck! :love:
 

Ashers

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Since I'm sitting in one of the worst classes ever, I figured I could add my opinion.

I loved anatomy, it was a lot of memorization, but not bad. Phys too, like people are saying, a lot of comprehension, not too much memorization.

The bane of my existence is anything related to psych, busywork (med ethics), and neuro. Even though psych is the easiest class in the school, I just can't do well in it. Yeah, so those are hard because I hate them so much, i don't want to study them.
 

ucsb101

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I haven't started med school yet, but I think anatomy would be the hardest. Soooo many structure, nerves, blood vessels, muscles, head and neck. People have failed it before-- is it THAT bad?!!!! I've also been hearing a lot about path. being pretty brutal. I'm interested to know what stood out for you as: thank God that class is over!!



Neuroscience/Neuroanatomy without a doubt
 
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