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I can not believe I’m more than halfway finished with my first semester of Medical School!  The most surprising thing is that medical school is not nearly as hard as I thought it would be.

Don’t get it twisted, it does take a lot of discipline.

Right now I am in the middle of “Semana Santa” or Holy Week.  For those of you who don’t know, the Semana Santa Holiday lasts two weeks in Mexico.  So yes, I have two weeks off from school!  Another reason why I love UAG and why I chose to begin in the Spring semester.

But I digress . . .

I want to take this time to do a mid-semester self-evaluation/report.

Anatomy

Anatomy was the class I was most intimidated by because it is almost pure memorization.  I’m not bad at memorizing, I’m actually great at it, but I hate to do it.  Why do I have three different books for this class, at one time four books.  I have Moore (5th and 6th ed), Thieme, and Gray’s? Yes, I was doing too much.

I am doing above average in this class, and I attribute that to my more than awesome Anatomy Lab teacher.  He is hands down the best lab professor.  He helps you learn a lot and we are always ahead of other labs in regards to material. There were questions on our last head and neck exam that I got correct just because it was information he required for us to learn.

For the section on upper and lower limbs I was consistent at watching the Acland Videos and memorizing pertinent structures, irrigation, and innervation.  However, when we were semi-required to attend class, it became harder to stay on track and I found myself falling behind.

Nevertheless, I believe I have a system that will work for me.  The two Anatmoy books I use are by Thieme and Moore.  I don’t care what anyone says, those are the best books for Anatomy.  Thieme is an atlas that has pictures that are more vivid and clear than Netter’s by far.  They are just beautiful pictures.  An atlas alone is not sufficient enough to understand what is really going on in the body, one needs a descriptive text to explain how the muscles, nerves, arteries, and veins interact.  Moore is perfect because it doesn’t leave ANYTHING out . . . it is almost over detailed.  But for the tests we take at UAG, this book is perfect.

One other source that I completely neglected until recently is Histology and Cell Biology (Kierskenbaum). Yes, this is a Histology/Cell Biology text.  I wish I could have read this text before taking my Upper and Lower Limbs and Head and Neck Exams.  It would have made all the difference.  In a way, this book helps you take your own system-based approach to learning.  This book will definitely help you on the tests.

To prepare for the exam, do not listen to what the professor says during the review.  The exam is not written by the professor, but by the head of the Morphology department.  Don’t make the same mistake I did and solely focus on the review, try to learn everything.  Read Moore through twice and BRS at least once.  Then work on Pre-Test, BRS, old tests, and Kaplan questions.

Cell Biology

So sad . . . I know I took this class, but can’t remember what I learned from it.  Maybe because everything we were “taught” in this class was taught better and with more detail in Biochemistry and Histology.  I still suggest reading Medical Cell Biology (Goodman).  The book by Junquiera was not enough for me, perhaps I do better with more details.  In the end, I just used Junquiera as a tertiary resource after Wikipedia.  The old professor for this class has since been terminated, so I don’t know who will be teaching this class in the future.

Biochemistry

This is my best class so far.  Mostly because I have found a system that works and the tests are undeniable fair. If you are not passing this class, then you know it’s your fault.  I don’t use any books for this class, just the Biochemistry Handouts that can be bought at the Papelería by the OXXO (The Papercup).

Before every exam I read through his handouts at least twice.  The first time around I make sure to annotate the Handouts with notes from class and Wikipedia.  The second go through is just to cement what I read the first time.  I also write an outline to review.  This time I doubt I’ll write an outline, but rather do more questions from Pre-Test and BRS.

Histology

The instructor for this class is the head of the Morphology department at UAG and is very knowledgeable but temperamental.  He is actually good teacher if you ask me.  Some of my classmates may thing otherwise.  Many may be stuck on his accent and the fact that he can repeat a word 4-5 times, which can sometimes be annoying (cuneiform, CUN-ei-form, CUN-EI-FORM, cuneiform). I know he is just repeating the words so that we can understand him. The upside to this that you can get great notes because you’re hardly ever wondering what he says.  The professor only has two rules, and if you abide by them you will be fine. Rule #1 – Don’t disrespect me and Rule #2 – Don’t Disrespect me.  The moment he feels he doesn’t have respect from the class, he will flip.  So do your best to fly under the radar.

To prepare for the exams I just read Kierskenbaum and BRS then do as many questions as possible from BRS, Pre-Test, and old exams.

Gunner Training

I didn’t realize how helpful Gunner Training was until I took a two-week break from the questions.  When I cam back, I was shocked by the amount of information that I had almost forgotten.  I had forgotten answers to questions that were easy two weeks prior.  Then I thought, what if I didn’t do Gunner Training at all?  How much of this information would I forget before Step 1?  Those were some scary thoughts.

Start Gunner Training on Day one, it’s worth it.  It has material on Gunner Training compliments what is being taught in class and at times adds more details.  Compared to other programs, it’s very reasonably priced.  In addition, UAG students received a 50% discount and I got a 2 year subscription for $170.  It’s pretty much the First Aid digitized, so don’t neglect it.  I don’t even suggest using First Aid at all if you plan on being faithful to Gunner.

Overall

Medical school is a marathon, not a sprint.  You have to be consistent throughout the whole race to be truly successful.  I try to spend between 4-6 hours studying a day.  Try not to get behind because it is very hard to catch up.  Study everything, don’t look for shortcuts.  Remember, we are trying to save lives. It’s in your best interest to know as much as you can about the body and how it works.  The material is not difficult.

Sometimes the first look at new information is intimidating, but after I dive in, it’s not that bad.  The key is to become familiar with the information.  I have been using Gunner Training which motivates me to stay on track and helps keep the information fresh in my mind and will be helpful for the final exams.

UAG is not nearly as bad as what I thought it would be.  I have had very little to no problems with administration or professors.  If I stay focused on the goal of passing the STEP 1, I know I will be successful.