Yess! I’m in my penultimate year of medical school….finally. I earnestly look forward to classes and/or ward rounds (this is a lie. I don’t want the holiday to end yet).
As I inch ever closer to the goal that is becoming a doctor, I would like to press pause and take a retrospective look on my 4th year. I did okay but it could have been better.
I’ll begin with the Medicine and Surgery posting. This is the time to have the maximum fun. Classes don’t end very late and you can actually have time for other extra-curricular activities or business. Basically, you can do things other than bury your nose in a book all the time (save this for Pathology and Pharmacology postings). The key is to be 100% present in classes and possibly ward rounds. You’ll learn more this way than skipping classes to just read Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine or Bailey and Love’s. Afterall, medicine is an apprenticeship so showing up is 60% of the work. You could dedicate a few hours of the weekend to going over what you have learnt for the week so reading for the end of posting test is less cumbersome (I didn’t do the weekend reading thing but thank God I borderline survived). M1S1 posting contributes to your final year grade so have fun as much as possible BUT get above 50 for the love of God. Lest I forget, take pictures in your scrub suit!
As for Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM) posting, all I can say is attend the classes to the best of your ability. It’s the basis of clinical class and it truly helps. Don’t kill yourself for this. Just get the ICM CD and manual and have a partner to practice with especially close to the end of posting exam. I still don’t know if ICM scores have any significance. Just try to get above 50 ‘just because you can’ even though there might be no reason.
Preventive and Social Medicine (PSM) was definitely one of my favourite postings. It is the bedrock for the PSM done in the final year class. Just try pass am. Be present and you’ve done 80% of the job already as the notes are not so much. You might only have to read it the night before the EOP (end of posting) exam if you do this. If you don’t fancy attending classes, this is the only time I can actually say you could go ahead to skip a few as long as you make up to the required 75% attendance. They don’t play with it. Then, get the notes from someone and try to look at them at least once prior to the night before the EOP. I guarantee you a successful ride.
Finally, Path and Pharm…..the actual reason for year 4. All that I have written above is great but what shall it profit a man to get 70% in all of them (PSM, ICM, M&S) and not do well in P&P? P&P is dicey. You know how I said you shouldn’t kill yourself before? Now, you can kill yourself.
Settle on a textbook early on so you can commence reading as soon as possible. For me, Lippincott was my Bible for the Introductory Pharm and System 1 (CVS, GIT, Respiratory and Hemopoietic Pharmacology) and a little bit of Board Review Katzung. I couldn’t deal with the ‘main Katzung’ because it was too bulky for me to cover in such a short time (you could do it but that would mean practically cutting off your social life) and it reminded me of Ganong . I introduced Board Review Katzung/Board Review Series into the mix for the last three postings and barely touched my Lippincott. All I’m saying is, sample the various books if you wish early on and find the one that would be your Bible. There’s no one size fits all so find what works for you and stick to it. Keep your eyes and ears wide open for certain materials that would help you in your end-of-posting MCQS. Don’t be left behind. If you get into the hall for the intro test and you haven’t finished answering the Pharm Intro USMLE questions, then you are a learner.
I made this mistake and I honestly don’t want anyone to anymore. I was told and didn’t listen 😐.
Discuss pharmacology. Teach someone or teach yourself out loud if you don’t have a study partner. Explain the mechanism of action of any drug as often as possible until you internalize it.
Watch Kaplan videos. I didn’t except for one topic and it was truly helpful. Kaplan would reduce the likelihood of you having to dwell on a particular topic before you get understanding. Furthermore, consolidation is enhanced. There are also Pharm audios which you could get from people. You could listen to them when you’re just too lazy or tired to study or when you want to annoy your roommate. They are helpful particularly when you want to multitask. What you hear has a great chance of being remembered when needed. Thus, attend class, watch Kaplan videos, listen to pharm audios, and discuss with someone ….whichever rocks your boat. Just hear something Pharm-related from somewhere or someone.
Get the fabled ‘Drug book’ for drug classifications. I alternated between the classifications in the drug book and that in Board Review Katzung Pharmacology although I took a preference to the latter. Go over the classifications as often as possible as you’re essentially cramming the classification if we’re being honest. Just know that, it might be difficult to scale through a Pharm MB exam if you don’t have a grip on classifications. Just go through any MB past question to see what I mean.
When reading especially the introductory part of Pharm, make notes. It would go a long way when preparing for the MB. Take a critical look at the past questions up to 6 years back and use that as a guide. Common things occur commonly. Answer as many past questions as possible in a 60/80 leaves exercise book to make revision easier.
You should already know that there are 4 branches that make up the entity ‘Pathology’ – Chemical path, Haematology, Anat Path and Microbiology (MCB)S.
Take the attendance seriously because they do take it seriously. However you want to do it, get your 75%.
Chemical Pathology was my best mainly because they gave concise notes which means your Chem Path textbook might be of no use except you’re gunning for a BGS (even at that, you might still not need it). The introductory part of Chem Path might not seem so interesting because of all the talk about elements Na, K etc but it does get better. Chem Path might be your highest CA like for me and a lot of people. Just read your note as much as you can. They also have the friendliest block posting. Classes end by 1pm most of the time so you can afford to have as much fun as medical school would permit. Just know your Chem path well. It just might be your saving grace!
Chem path practicals….just do whatever you are told to do in the lab. As for the MB, read the Chem Path manual in and out, over and over. EVERYTHING would come from it. Again it just might be your saving grace.
Anat Path –
This is the pathology where knowing your intro like the dorsum of your hand is important. Let your intro always be palpable. Don’t ever get tired of reading acute and chronic inflammation because the lecturers won’t get tired of asking it. As for the block posting, never ever has a study group been so beneficial to me as it was during that period. Taken a look at Robbins and Cotran. That’s how large Anat Path is and it is humanly impossible to finish that book before end of posting test. The best thing you can do for yourself is to be as serious as you can be. This is when you should break you head to make the book enter if necessary. Also, discuss, discus, discuss.
Take the practical classes like a free trip to Paris. Don’t miss it for anything especially the pot sessions. Take pictures of the pots in the lab. All the MB practical questions would definitely come from the pots in the lab. If you don’t utilize this well, na you sabi.
Haematology & Immunology
They account for 60&40 marks respectively. Ensure you get your 75% here even if you might not make it in other courses. There is no begging here. I would say hold your immunology down as tight as possible as it has fewer topics. Ask for areas of concentration. You just might get lucky. The same goes for Haematology. Know all about the Anemias, everything you can know. I’ll admit that I didn’t read my Haematology textbook. If I could go back, I would probably look through it a bit. If you have your class notes on lock though, it might suffice. There’s a trick to scaling through Haematology which I can’t exactly explain here. This is important. Just ask anyone personally (myself included). Haematology was single-handedly responsible for most of the lowest CAs in class so you might as well start praying now. Again, ask for areas of concentration.
Take practicals seriously especially the Haematology aspect. Immunology is quite variable and more unpredictable during the MB.
I approached MCB the wrong way. MCB is a lot like pharmacology in that you can’t just read it like a novel. This was precisely what I did. I got lucky but that might not be everyone’s story. MCB requires active reading and not passive reading. This will mostly come into play during the block posting.
Try to memorize the name of every organism taught in class the same day it is taught. Follow the lecturer’s pace. This might not be the best time to extensively read ahead. Understand the lifecycles of various parasites and practice them continually. If I had to go back, I would definitely do this. Review, review, review. MCB is very volatile except you plan on reading only very close to the end of posting test in which case your short-term memory might work (I wouldn’t advise this because it could come back to bite you in the ass later on). As for the practicals, be very present and be able to id everything even with the microscope.s
Note -Don’t joke with your seminar presentations. They add to your MCB grade (unlike Anat Path seminar which doesn’t but you should still try to do well ‘just because’). For a lot of people, your seminar topic could be your viva question in MCB.
– Don’t joke with Prof. Obunge’s topics. They are very high yield essay questions.
– Don’t joke with the topics you are taught closest to the end of the posting. They are also high yield.
-Read Dr. Wariso’s textbook to the best of your ability and answer the MCQs at the back (cram them!). They are certainly high yield.
– Don’t joke with MCB. It’s either you know it or you don’t. There’s no in-between.
I honestly wish everyone the best ❤️,