Pre-Clinical Courses

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Keep in mind that a lot has changed since I was an M1/M2 so what I’ve typed up may not be that up-to-date anymore. For the most accurate info, I highly recommend talking to upperclassmen in the class directly above yours.  

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M1 Year- 1st Semester

Biochemistry

Pros:

  • The subject itself is not hard
  • Professors want us to learn and are happy to answer any questions, both during class and via email/office hours
  • The professors individually are good lecturers

Cons:

  • Material jumps around and doesn’t present the subject in the proper sequence. Therefore, instead of feeling like we understand the subject and the mechanisms of how all this biochem works and interacts, it’s like we’re just memorizing enough facts for us to do well on the next exam
  • There are 4 professors that lecture. There’s variability in notes, sometimes they have conflicting information

Tips:

  • Some professors provide study questions. DO THEM! Don’t waste your time memorizing every little detail of the notes. Know the answers to the study questions and the surrounding/ background information for the answers and you’ll at least pass. If you’re aiming for 100%, then go ahead and memorize everything.
  • Don’t underestimate the amount of material. It’s a 5.5 credit class for a reason! We had a biochem lecture about 4 times a week for at least 1 hr each lecture. The material really piles up on you, especially when you’re worried about classes like physio and anatomy. Make sure to review often so you’re not cramming a ton of biochem before an exam.

Gross Anatomy

Pros:

  • The professors are fair and are good with emphasizing what they expect you to know for the exams. If you study for the class then you should be fine.
  • There are lots of resources to help you do well in the class. See below.

Cons:

  • Some of the note packets for lecture are literally pictures with minimal text. Be prepared to fill stuff in.
  • I’ve been to other med schools’ anatomy labs and I can say that ours is pretty poorly maintained. Our lab smells really bad. You’ll get used to it eventually and the smell won’t get to you as much. Some students put Vick’s Vapor Rub on their upper lip to cover the smell (don’t do this, you’ll look silly) and others will pop a mint or piece of gum in their mouth before stepping into lab. UPDATE: In 2015, OSHA cited NSUCOM after finding that students and faculty in the lab were getting way too much exposure to formaldehyde. I can’t say that I’m surprised..

Tips:

  •  If you can, go to the pre-labs on Wednesdays from 6-7PM. They give you an idea of what you’re supposed to be doing the next day in lab, and sometimes the anatomy fellows will give you hints on exams, helpful mnemonics to remember things, etc.
  • Go to the anatomy reviews put on by CDMA and SOSA. They’re exhausting because you’re pretty much rotating through different stations for hours and hours with small breaks in the middle, but it’s worth it in the end. Be sure to take notes so you can go back to review them later.
  • The lecture exams and lab practicals are weighted equally when being calculated into your final grade. Therefore, I suggest that you become very familiar with the material for at least one of the two (preferably both, obviously). This way, if you do poorly on one, at least you have the other to boost your grade. My suggestion is to switch off studying between both lecture and lab instead of studying them separately. It definitely helped me to understand the material better. 
  • Do all of the practice questions that are in the back of the Head and Neck packet. Seriously, do all of them. It’ll be money for the final.

Histology:

Pros

  • Professor tries to keep class interesting
  • Subject material isn’t hard

Cons

  • Subject itself isn’t super interesting and there’s a lot of it

Tips

  • If you decide to go to class, get there on time
  • Get the histo DVDs from either IMOC or an upperclassman. They’re made by the professor teaching the course and they’ll help a lot for the lab practicals

Physiology:

Pros

  • If you put in the time and effort, you’ll learn a lot
  • Professors know their stuff. Ask them any questions.

Cons

  • Most difficult class of first semester
  • Professors are somewhat intimidating and do not always explain things well
  • K-type questions with cardiophys caused mass exam failure

Tips

  • Study this class diligently and pre-read the lectures before hand
  • Go to class because the professors will turn off the recording system and do practice questions that are similar to the exam questions
  • For cellular/molecular physio, memorize the lecture notes packet. No really, memorize it. If I say “digitoxin”, you need to be able to flip to the exact page in the packet and tell me everything you know about it. You must memorize that packet cold. There’s no other way. The first exam is nit-picky on detail and they will try to trick you by putting very similar (yet different) wording in the answer choices. If you didn’t know the packet well enough, you will get tricked and get the question wrong. That’s why I encourage you to know everything in there very, very well.
  • As for the cardiophys, our first exam has k-type questions (i.e. ‘a, b, and c are correct’, ‘only b and d are correct’), and the interpretation of the answers is very subjective. Our average for the first cardiophys exam was a failing percentage, so our class as a whole got rocked on that exam. We did better on the final because they eliminated k-type questions.
  • Do the questions in the cardiophys packet, and if necessary, seek outside resources. What helped me a lot was meeting with a tutor and basically paying them $30 an hr just to talk with me about the subject material. The cardiophys packet can really get confusing, so it helps to talk to a tutor who has taken the class before, and hear how they break it down into simpler terms.

Physical Diagnosis:

Pros:

  • This is NOT a difficult class

Cons:

  • Physician preceptor variability. Some of the doctors are excellent and go out of their way to teach you clinical pearls. Others do not.

Tips:

  • Memorize the list they give you for the CSE’s and you’ll be golden
  • Practice on a lot of people. Some of the guys in my class are scared of breasts and were freaking out about doing the heart exam on a female standardized patient (how old are we? 5?). Just practice, and practice timed. There is a time limit on the CSE’s and you need to really fly through everything if you want to finish on time. Everything you don’t get to is a point taken off, so keep that in mind.
  • I found that the SOAP note write-ups were difficult because there isn’t really a guide on how we’re supposed to write them. Don’t worry about them too much. The big points are on the CSE’s. Even the written final exam isn’t worth as much as all the CSE’s combined.

IGC:

Pros:

  • If you get a good preceptor, you’ll learn a lot
  • Most preceptors are understanding about making up a session later if you have an upcoming test

Cons:

  • Preceptor variability. I didn’t get to do anything at my site. I know other students that got to do full H&Ps
  • You may have to drive over an hour away to get to your preceptor’s site
  • If your preceptor doesn’t let you reschedule, IGC can be a huge time sink if you have an exam soon

Tips:

  • Ask questions, be interested in the field, and be enthusiastic. Have your preceptor sign off on the required forms every meeting time so you’re not asking them to sign off on 1000 papers the last day of the semester.

OPP:

Pros:

  • Class is well structured
  • Most of the professors are good at teaching and more than willing to help you out if you’re having difficulty understanding concepts

Cons:

  • Cumulative material. This could also be a pro.

Tips:

  • Don’t blow off OPP for the harder classes. You still need to pass this class!
  • The lectures cover what you do in lab, so pay attention in lecture and then apply it to lab. It will help you retain both lecture and lab information.
  • Go to the open lab every Wednesday from 5-6. It’s a good way to practice your technique and the OPP fellows and faculty are there if you need help
  •  Sometimes they’ll give an extra credit quiz in class, so it’s usually a good idea to go

Tobacco Use and Dependence:

Pros:

Cons:

  • Takes study time away from other classes
  • I don’t think anyone in the class knew what we were supposed to do. A lot of people just winged it.
  • You might get stuck in a bad group

Humanism in Medicine: 

Pros:

  • Pretty straightforward class
  • Short class- doesn’t last the whole semester
  • Mostly common sense

Cons:

  • Takes study time away from other classes

Tips:

  • What comprises your grade is attendance and some written assignments; not that big of a deal. As long as you turn everything in on time you should get 100%.

Foundations & Applications of Clinical Reasoning: 

Pros:

  • You get exposed to cases and disease presentations

Cons:

  • Mandatory class. Most people aren’t even paying attention.
  • Final grade determined by one exam at the end of the semester

Tips:

  • This pretty much goes for any class, but do the objectives right after the lecture and review them. I think the saving grace for my year was that we were able to get some people to contribute to and compile an updated objectives document a little bit before the exam. It saved a us a ton of time. We didn’t need to sift through all the fluff. Everything we needed to know for the final was right there, in an 80 page document, lol. If you went through a couple of hard read-throughs of the document you most likely passed. I think the lowest grade was a 50-something, which is pretty low considering this isn’t even a hard science class. Definitely don’t take the exam lightly. I know it’s easy to put Foundations on the backburner when you compare it to other classes, but if you fail the final, you fail the class.
  • More people failed Foundations than physio and it was the most failed class of first semester. Just make the time to study for the class.

Basic Life Support: 

Pros:

  • You get CPR certified

Cons:

  • Could be doing other things

Tips:

  • Your scheduled date might be at an inconvenient time. Plan ahead.

———————————————–

M1 Year- 2nd Semester

Neuroanatomy:

Pros:

  • Professor emphasizes important things to know over and over again both in lab and lecture. Probably a good idea to know those things.
  • The neuroanatomy lab is straight-foward and not nearly as messy as gross lab. You pretty much just grab a brain and look at it.

Cons: 

  • Lots of material on a complicated system. Some people just don’t “get” neuro. I am definitely one of them.

Tips:

  • The class doesn’t last for the whole semester. It lasts 2.5 months. This class is taught by the same professor as histology, and like histology, you’ll be taking the class with dental students. Although the class is taught by the same professor, the subject matter is completely different and is therefore taught much differently than histo. The professor will tell you beforehand, but bringing colored pencils or crayons is important for this class because you’ll be doing a lot of coloring during class. It’s fun at first but by February, whenever the professor says, “Okay let’s color this”, you’ll want to vomit. Just kidding (but no really). 
  • I highly encourage everyone to go to lab and spend a little time (it takes probably 1 hour max) to just go through the lab for the week. You pretty much just go grab a brain or two from one of the buckets and identify structures, areas, etc. Knowing your stuff for lab will be worth it, I promise. Also, failing the lab portion usually results in failing the class (if you can’t pass lab, you probably can’t pass lecture)
  • When studying for an exam, do a primary run-though of the note packets that are going to be tested and try to absorb and memorize as much as possible. Then start doing practice questions that the professor posts on Blackboard. This class is super info dense, is about a complicated system, and she can ask you a question about literally anything. IMO, it’s too much effort to try and memorize everything on every page and figure out how to apply it. Do the practice questions, and with every question you answer, dissect it. Understand why choice A is right and the others are wrong. How did the professor try to trick you? What else can you tell me about the disease or pathway in the question stem? Once you start going through questions, you’ll notice there’s a pattern to what kind of things she’ll most likely ask you on. After you go through all the questions, then you can focus on the tiny details of each page. For this class, studying smarter will get your further than studying harder.

Micro 1:

Pros:

  • Ton of exams = multiple chances to “make up” a poor grade
  • Most of the professors were good, some emphasized in class what you should know for exams and for boards. Make note of the hints on your notes so you can review them before an exam.

Cons:

  • Class is made up of three subjects: virology, bacteriology, and immunology with 3+ different lecturers
  • Massive amount of information
  • Final exam is cumulative

Tips:

  • Your grade is made up of  6 exams. Two of them are immuno, three of them are viro/bact, and the last one is a cumulative final exam of viro/bact/immuno (superfuntime). If you screw up on one exam (it will probably be either the second immuno exam or the final), you still have ~4 exams to average it out. It is especially important to start off strong in this class. The exams only get harder, and our final exam was a disaster. The rumored average on our final was a 60%, and there was no curve in the end. Definitely don’t count on the final to boost your grade because for a majority of people their grades dropped. Go into the final having a good cushion so you still pass the class even if you bomb it.
  • Use Picmonic and/or Sketchy Micro for viro/bact sections. Use them in conjunction with the packets. Using them alone to study won’t help because you won’t understand anything that’s going on. You’ll need to be taking the class and be reading through the packets while using Picmonic/Sketchy Micro to really get the whole picture of what everything means.
  • If you can’t stand immuno like me, I recommend a book called “How the Immune System Works”. It’s a pretty small book, but it’s good at laying out the general idea of the immune system. It is NOT a replacement for lecture notes.

Micro 2:

Pros:

  • Professor is awesome
  • Very well organized notes

Cons:

  • Micro 2 only has two exams- a midterm and a final. There is no lab to help your grade out, so it’s important to do well on the exams
  • Tons and tons of information
  • Some people found this class to be really boring. I thought it was pretty cool. To each his own.

Tips:

  • This is one of those classes where you have to sit down and just study. There are no shortcuts. You really need to know everything about each organism. The reason being is that all the questions will be secondary questions, meaning you’ll be given a case of a patient who presents with symptoms for an X amount of time. There might also be information about where the person was in the world when he/she got sick. At this point, you might already be able to identify the organism- which would be great IF the question asked for the organism. Instead, the question will say something like, “Would you expect this patient to get partial protective immunity, full protective immunity, or neither partial or protective immunity?” Now you have to think if the organism you suspect this patient has actually results in any sort of immunity. So basically, there are two ways you can get the question wrong: 1.) you can’t identify the organism after reading the case, or 2.) you can identify the organism but you can’t remember what kind of immunity it provides. Sneaky sneaky.
  • This also goes for Micro 1: Just. Know. Everything. Unless the professor actually said “Don’t study the first 20 pages of the note packet”, just study it.
  • Make stories for the parasites based on their names and presentation. It will help you remember things.

Physio 2:

Pros:

  • Not as bad as Physio 1

Cons:

  • Taught by multiple professors
  • Not much time to study for the final

Tips:

  • If you survived Physio 1, you’ll do fine in this class. The same professor that taught Cardio Phys comes back second semester to teach Respiratory Phys, and the same professor that taught Cellular/Molecular phys comes back to teach Neuro Phys. The same tips from Physio 1 applies. You’ll also have renal physiology which IMO was a huge pain. Keep up with the material, read ahead, and you’ll survive.

Physical Diagnosis:

Pros:

  • Same as last semester

Cons:

  • Same as last semester 

Tips:

  • You keep your same group, but you switch preceptors. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. The last CSE of the year is INTENSE. It’s cumulative (includes material from second AND first semester), so keep that in mind as you go through 1st semester. The final CSE lasts about 40 minutes and is worth a ton of points! If you can, try to review the old material once in a while so you don’t have to cram hardcore for the final.

IGC: 

Cons:

  • Same as last semester

Pros:

  • Same as last semester 

Tips:

  • Same as last semester. You don’t/can’t change physicians, not even for distance purposes. 

OPP II: 

Pros:

  • Same as last semester

Cons:

  • None

Tips:

  • You learn more advanced and complicated techniques so more practice might be necessary. Something that’s cool about second semester is that you can actually use the techniques and they’ll actually be helpful when treating someone. Also, the practicals only get more and more difficult (the easiest one was the first one, for sure). Remember not to blow off OPP for other classes!

Humanism: 

Pros:

  • Same as last semester

Cons:

  • Same as last semester

Tips:

  • Same as last semester

Foundations & Applications of Clinical Reasoning

Pros:

  • Same as last semester

Cons:

  • Same as last semester

Tips:

  • Same as last semester, except there was a midterm this time.

———————————————–

M1 Year- Summer Session

Radiology: 

Pros:

  • One of the most do-able classes you’ll take at Nova
  • The main professor is a great lecturer and engages the students. He tells us funny stories related to the material.
  • Overall, very straightforward class

Cons:

  • Honestly, none.

Tips:

  • Keep on top of the material since the class only lasts a couple weeks
  • It’s a good idea to actually go to class since the recording system is a potato and doesn’t quite capture the X-ray/CT/MRI images that clearly

Pharmacology: 

Pros:

  • Professors are very knowledgeable and are good teachers

Cons:

  • Cramming. So. Much. Cramming.
  • Arguably one of the hardest classes of your pre-clinical years 

Tips:

  • Make charts, tables, whatever you can to help you remember the material
  • The first several lectures on drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics are math based. Know how to do the math problems that the professor does in class. You will see something similar on the exam. They’re easy points.
  • Don’t bother memorizing common side effects like headache, nausea, and GI upset. Those are side effects for every drug. Know the really unique side effects, like flushing, gynecomastia, etc.
  • Know the MOA of each drug class
  • Know the drug of choice for diseases
  • Picmonic has almost all the drugs you learn in this course. Use it.

Pathology: 

Pros:

  • Professors know their stuff

Cons:

  • This class overlaps with pharm, so you’ll feel really overwhelmed
  • Lectures are very info-dense and it’s hard to figure out what is important to know for exams

Tips:

  • Go through the notes multiple times. You can’t really predict the questions you’ll get asked
  • Understand the material more than just memorizing it. It will get you further.

———————————————–

M2 Year- 1st Semester

Cardiovascular System:

Pros:

  • Lectures were good for the most part

Cons:

  • Other than the amount of information, none

Tips:

  • This goes for pretty much every systems class, but you need to review the material regularly. There’s way too much information for just one read-through
  • Knowing your cardiophys will actually help a little bit

Endocrine:

Pros:

  • Professors were pretty clear with what they expect you to know with exams

Cons:

  • Can get kind of confusing with all the negative feedback systems
  • Lots of information

Tips:

  • Be able to tell the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary diseases based on lab values
  • Know the relationships between different hormones (inhibit, enhance, increase, decrease)

ECG:

Pros:

  • Professor is good
  • Exam is straightforward

Cons:

  • None

Tips:

  • Pay attention, you’ll need to know how to read ECG’s on rotations

Respiratory System:

Pros:

  • Material isn’t too bad

Cons:

  • Professor that taught this course left NSU, so that sucks
  • Lots of info

Tips:

  • Know clinical presentations and what you’d expect to see on a CXR as a result
  • Know your respiratory physio

Heme & Lymph System:

Pros:

  • Main professor is very good with presenting and organizing the information

Cons:

  • Heme tends to confuse the crap out of medical students

Tips:

  • Keep on top of the material, it goes by fast
  • Study the material as it is organized in class. If you try making your own categories for anemias and stuff you’ll confuse yourself.

Integumentary:

Pros:

  • Now I know how acne is formed

Cons:

  • Lots of information on an incredibly low-yield topic. Even the professor said it’s low-yield.
  • Takes time away from studying for other classes.
  • There’s one lecturer that reads straight off her slides. No one ever went to her lectures.

Tips:

  • Go. To. The. Reviews.

MSK System:

Pros:

  • OPP background helps a little bit

Cons:

  • Lots of people have trouble with this class. It doesn’t seem hard, but for some reason the exams were rough.

Tips:

  • Don’t underestimate this class. Not as easy as it seems

Nervous/Neurology System:

Pros:

  • You’ll learn about some pretty interesting pathologies
  • Good professors

Cons:

  • None really

Tips:

  • Go to the review!

IGC Preceptorship III:

Pros:

  • Last IGC!

Cons:

  • You have to go in every other week instead of every three weeks

Tips:

  • Same as last semester

Foundations & Applications of Clinical Reasoning:

Pros:

  • Same as last semester

Cons:

  • Two hours of academic review immediately afterwards
  • Exams also includes information from academic review hours

Tips:

  • When reviewing for an exam, look through the academic review questions that were done in class and know them well

Principles of Clinical Medicine:

Pros:

  • Get used to doing focused patient interviews and writing SOAP notes
  • No physician in the room during CSEs

Cons:

  • Tbh I think the class could be vamped up a little bit to prepare M2s better for rotations

Tips:

  • The SP will usually have a complaint based on something you’ve recently learned in one of the system courses, so it may be a good idea to review those and their clinical presentations if you have time

OPP III:

Pros:

  • Same as last semester, plus you learn cervical HVLA

Cons:

  • None

Tips:

  • Same as last semester

———————————————–

M2 Year- 2nd Semester

Medical Jurisprudence:

Pros:

  • Pretty short class
  • Interesting professor

Cons:

  • Class is immediately after Christmas break and is mandatory

Tips:

  • Lectures seem info dense but the exam questions are pretty straightforward from what I remember

GI System:

Pros:

  • A lot of GI is straight pathology

Cons:

  • None

Tips:

  • Keep up with material, etc

Psychiatry:

Pros:

  • Some of the lectures were interesting

Cons:

  • I’m not a big fan of psych, so I didn’t like this class

Tips:

  • Know the drugs, know the personality types, know the psychology lectures

Renal/Urinary System:

Pros:

  • Professor is a good teacher, very patient with helping us understand nephrology

Cons:

  • Difficult class with difficult exams, good number of people didn’t pass this class
  • Renal portion of the Integrated exam was rough

Tips:

  • Study really well for the exams. My class felt like the sample questions done in class were much easier than the questions we got on the Integrated exam, so really know the material

Women’s Health:

Pros:

  • Professor is passionate about what he does
  • Gives hints for exam and boards
  • Explains concepts clearly
  • Overall, straightforward class

Cons:

  • Some of the things the professor talked about in class bothered us

Tips:

  • Go to lecture or at least listen to the recording, he drops lots of hints that you should know
  • If he has a review, go to it

Peds:

Pros:

  • Really nice professor
  • Great lectures

Cons:

  • None

Tips:

  • Keep up with material, etc.

Geriatrics:

Pros:

  • Lecture material is pretty straightforward
  • Good lecturers

Cons:

  • Sometimes gets a little info-dense

Tips:

  • Keep up with material, etc.

Foundations & Applications of Clinical Reasoning:

Pros:

  • Same as last semester

Cons:

  • Same as last semester

Tips:

  • Same as last semester

Principles of Clinical Medicine:

Pros:

  • Same as last semester

Cons:

  • Same as last semester

Tips:

  • Same as last semester

OPP IV:

Pros:

  • Same as last semester

Cons:

  • None

Tips:

  • Same as last semester
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