Monday, January 23, 2012


What's medical school actually like? Is it like college? High school? Work? How do you learn to be a doctor?
I used to wonder this a lot in college. So, if you're not a medical student and you're like I was, you're curious about how this works!

90% of my time is spent with classes that are a lot like typical undergrad courses (not TAC classes!). The first year here is divided like this:
  1. Core Principles of Medicine (two "blocks," where "block" simply means half of a semester)
    1. anatomy
    2. physiology
    3. histology
    4. "molecular medicine" (biochemistry, except relevant)
    5. genetics
  2. Introduction to Disease
    1. pathology
    2. microbiology (immunology, bacteriology, virology, parasitology, mycology)
    3. pediatrics
  3. Neuroscience
The second year begins exactly where the first year left off, continuing with more organ-system blocks (which are parts of a semester divided by subject, like neuroscience, female/male reproductive, hematology/oncology, cardiovascular, etc.) Pharmacology and physiology are sprinkled throughout.

10% of my time (right now) is spent in a class called Clinical Skills, where I practice taking a history and physical exam. I now rock the otoscope/ophthalmoscope. I'm terrified of percussion and palpation. (I cannot for the life of me feel lymph nodes.) Once a week we learn a new skill and practice it on partners in a two-hour session. I think this is inadequate, so I've been grabbing everyone I can see to practice any appropriate skill (hence why I am decent at funduscopy but awful with lymph nodes).

Next year this will change slightly, so stay tuned!


  1. If it makes you feel any better most lymph nodes you aren't supposed to be able to feel unless something is wrong. :)

    I think it's interesting to see how different each school is set up. Ours is all system based. Apparently your type of curriculum leads to higher step 1 scores and lower step 2 whereas the systems based leads to lower step 1 and higher step 2 scores. It's only a little bit frustrating for the system based schools because the most important factor for matching is Step 1.

  2. Regarding lymph nodes: you take a HUGE load off of my mind. THANK YOU.

    I didn't know that about Step scores and various curricula. On a slightly related note, does it ever seem to you that professors are teaching the test?