Here we go: Volume II of what to expect in your first year as a biomedical student at PCOM. A few weeks ago I talked about how things will play out at the start of your first trimester, and what kind of time constraints to expect as a student in this graduate program. I'm now going to go over each class you're going to register for over the three trimesters of your inaugural year as a biomed. There's quite a bit of info, so to condense it down, I'm going to cover things in a pretty straight forward fashion and move from course to course covering all the good stuff... like... general content overview, teaching method and if any text is truly necessary for purchase (thus helping you determine if you really need to drain your bank account).
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First Trimester: Molecular Basis of Medicine; Infectious Process
Molecular Basis of Medicine (lovingly referred to as MBM)
Think of this class as undergraduate biochemistry on [lots and lots of] steroids. You will be covering an abundance of information relating to the metabolic processes of the body and also a large chunk of molecular genetics. A solid undergraduate premedical curriculum should have you ready to tackle the rigors that are about to unfold before you, just be sure to use some time management to get through all the information that's about to be hurled your way. Class is going to generally stretch the entire four hour span here (coffee lovers, rejoice), and all of your information will be provided through Power Point presentations and teacher provided handouts (which you'll need to seek out and print prior to class). Your professors will provide you with a list of helpful textbooks for purchase, but you'd be better off saving that money for decompression post exam. You and glycolysis will soon be closer than you and your bff.
For the most part, this class is not as rigorous as its first semester counterpart. A lot of immunology and microbiology will be covered here. Again, no text is really required as long as you're able to take efficient notes during lecture and utilize Google. You're more likely to get out of this class earlier than you would MBM. Although the information isn't as saturated in Infectious Process, you'll be doing yourself a disservice by not spending a good amount of time prepping for the exams. Like MBM, you will have your information provided to you via Power Points and hand-outs. A lot of students slant there studies heavily in favor of MBM only to have their final GPA broken to bits when they do poorly in this class.
Second Trimester: Human Anatomy; Histology
Human Anatomy (or Gross Anatomy)
If you've made it this far in the year, then breath a sigh of relief because the crucible known as MBM has been bested by you. However, this doesn't mean anything is going to get easier- but it does say something for your ability to ingest a lot of bio content and then regurgitate it come exam time, which is exactly what you'll be doing for anatomy. This stuff is really straight forward, but be ready for an onslaught of anatomical jargon which you've unlikely come across in your previous years of undergraduate education (yes, even if you took a "comparative anatomy" course), Things are going to get very detailed for this class, especially when it comes to your cadaver practical, so be prepared to spend a lot of time upstairs in the laboratory after-hours. Class is taught with Power Points (surprise), and for cadaver lab, you will be provided with a checklist each class of anatomical sites to identify (which are all up for grabs to be "tagged" during your lab practical). Exams and lab practicals are on the same day. I highly advise that you pick up an anatomy atlas for this class. The eighty to one-hundred dollars you drop on this book will be well worth it when it comes time for studies. Be prepared to have the smell of formaldehyde on your clothes and a craving for chicken after each class session.
By far my favorite class of the first year (and unexpectedly so because I'm not very fond of peering down microscopes for extended periods of time). Lots of visual memorization is going to be helpful here (for those that don't have a good visual memory system or some sort of photographic memory, get ready to burn the midnight oil). Each class will have a lab component. No text is really necessary as long as you utilize your PCOM internet suite sources (more info on that will be provided once you're a student). The professor is going to tell you to rent a light microscope, but many a student- including myself- did very well without the additional eighty dollar rental. In the end, it's up to you and how well you know yourself and your visual memorization ability.
Third Trimester: Neuroscience; Physiology; Pharmacology
The name of the class says it all: you're going to be covering all sorts of neural synaptics and get in depth on the plasticity, and structure, of the brain. You will have two lab periods in which you dissect and identify all the regions of the human brain. The content isn't too horrible, and it's all provided via Power Point presentation. You probably won't need any text to do well as long as you attend each class and are able to use an internet search engine. Take good notes, and be sure to pay close attention when you start to get into the cranial nerve and optic lectures... they're a doozy.
Get ready to dive into the nitty-gritty of our body's inner workings and musculoskeletal kinetics. A lot of this stuff can be quite confusing, so be sure you have a solid base coming out of anatomy and be sure to take really good notes during class and maybe even watch Tegrity and couple times over to drive all of the concepts home. Weekly exam/quiz hybrids will be given over the entire trimester (one of those double-edged swords we talked about in a previous blog post). No books will be needed to get an A in this class. The quicker you get renal physiology down, the happier you're going to be... so don't procrastinate on that one.
Brute memorization. The entire trimester. Just accept that the day you're accepted into the biomed program and once pharm comes around you won't be as shell-shocked. A lot of interesting information is to be had, but it's difficult to "enjoy" what you're learning because before you can take in that fact that you know how to treat a bradycardic patient, you'll be expected to memorize appropriate dosages of alprazolam for a young adult with anxiety. Stay way on top of things and you should end up fine. Power Point lectures and hand-outs will be provided. I really did find this class very interesting, and you're going to get a lot of clinical knowledge out of it if you put the time in. No text purchases necessary.
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Yep... a lot of information was thrown at you in this post, but for those that are really interested in knowing how the year will play out ahead of time- this should give you a satisfactory idea. It seems like a lot, and definitely daunting initially, but you really just have to take it one day at a time and everything falls into place. Everything you learn builds upon previous lectures, so it does get easier once you find your "flow".
Oh, yeah: Happy Thanksgiving!!