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What to Study before Starting Medical School

by Mohammad Hajighasemi-Ossareh, MD, MBA
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    00:01 Welcome back to the premed lecture series. This is lecture two. Now, the most common question asked by premedical students is, "Mo, what do I study before medical school?” Well, let’s review what classes medical students take during the first two years of medical school and how it relates to the USMLE Step 1 exam. After doing that, then we’ll decide what students should start studying before medical school begins and if they need to study anything at all. Now, let’s discuss what courses students will take during the first two years of medical school. The first two years of medical school are commonly called the basic science years because you’ll be learning basic science in a classroom setting. Then the third and fourth years of medical school are called the clinical years because you’ll be rotating in a hospital and performing clinical duties. In general, the courses you will take during the first year of medical school are the following: anatomy and embryology, histology, biochemistry, cell biology.

    01:02 You’ll be taking genetics, immunology, neuroscience, and physiology. That's a lot of courses.

    01:08 Then in general during the second year of medical school, you’ll take the following courses: microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, and biostatistics and behavioral, a lot less courses in the second year. You’ll see why in a moment. Now, the question to consider, "Do I have to study before medical school begins?” Well, let’s discuss.

    01:30 Now, you’re aware of what course work you’ll take during the first two years of the medical school and the question is, “Do you even really need to study before medical school begins?” The simple answer is "No, you don’t have to study. What's wrong with you?” The medical school admissions committee selected you and found that you have the necessary criteria to matriculate into medical school, graduate, and become a successful doctor.

    01:54 You can simply show up on the first day of medical school having prepared only the logistics that we talked about in the previous topic and nothing else and you'll be fine.

    02:03 To tell a personal story, I showed up on the first day of medical school only having prepared the logistics.

    02:09 I knew where I was going to live. I had my car. I had some basic ideas of what I was going to eat.

    02:14 I showed up at the class with my notebook and a computer. I looked very nerdy, I’ll be honest.

    02:19 Everything turned out fine as you're aware. Also, if you do study a topic, let me give you the sad truth.

    02:26 You’re likely to study the wrong material because you have not learned yet what is considered high-yield material in medical school education. You're probably still used to the concept of studying in college. Save yourself the discomfort. You do not have to study beforehand.

    02:42 Now, what if you're absolutely dying to study something? Well, let me tell you. Hindsight is 20/20.

    02:49 If I could go back in time, I would have started studying anatomy before school had started.

    02:54 But this is because I had never taken anatomy while I was in college. I had to learn anatomy from the ground up for the very first time at medical school speed and this was a challenge.

    03:05 It was fine. You can do it. But what I noticed was that the students who had taken anatomy in college had an easier time. They were able to focus on the finer details with full focus while I, on the other hand, was trying to learn major concepts of anatomy and those same fine details simultaneously.

    03:24 I have no other course recommendations to study before starting medical school other than anatomy and that’s if you absolutely have to study something. That was in my recommendation because I had never taken anatomy beforehand. If you do wish to study anatomy, you want to study high-yield anatomy. Don’t just get a random anatomy textbook and start reading it.

    03:44 I recommend that you start following the lectures of the Lecturio lectures for anatomy to know what is high-yield anatomy for you to study. Now, a very common question is can I start studying for USMLE Step 1 before medical school begins? Well, we need to discuss the basics of what is USMLE Step 1? The USMLE Step 1 exam covers all of the material that is taught during the first two years of medical school.

    04:13 We will discuss the USMLE exam in much greater detail in future lectures.

    04:17 But so you’re aware, in order to do well on your exams, you must study the material from the basic science years very well. So to answer that question, you absolutely should not try to study for USMLE Step 1 before or even really during the first year of medical school.

    04:37 By this, I mean you need to focus on school studying. Of course, everything you’ll learn during the basic science years is relevant to the USMLE Step 1 exam but may not actually be on it.

    04:48 So, don’t worry yourself about studying for the USMLE Step 1 exam too early.

    04:55 You’re only going to distract yourself from learning the basic science material well.

    05:00 You are going to inadvertently hurt your own basic science studying. Here’s what you should do.

    05:06 Follow along with the principles that are taught in this lecture series which are the principles that students have been using for decades to do well in medical school and the USMLE exams.

    05:16 It’s what I was taught by more senior students. It’s what I learned. It’s what I’m going to teach to you.

    05:22 Now, we're going to discuss this in the next lectures but let me give you a sneak peek to quench the thirst of your curiosity. You need to spend the first year of medical school learning how to study the material well. You need to learn how to study effectively and efficiently.

    05:38 That’s the purpose and goal of the first year of medical school. You do not need to worry about USMLE Step 1. I don’t care what anyone tells you in medical school.

    05:47 I don’t care what your older person in medical school tells you. I am telling you the truth.

    05:52 Believe me on this. Don’t worry about it. Then during the second year of medical school, the basic science material will actually become tremendously more relevant to the USMLE Step 1 exam.

    06:03 That’s during that second year when you will start transitioning to USMLE Step 1 material.

    06:09 Now, you can get more details on this in the future lectures we’ll cover.

    06:14 Lecture summary: you do not need to study before starting medical school. You can show up on the first day simply having taken care of the logistics of your life and nothing else.

    06:25 If you do absolutely have to study because you're that kind of student, study anatomy.

    06:31 Follow along with the Lecturio lectures for high-yield anatomy for medical school.

    06:36 Don’t study anything else. You will study not high-yield material. Also, don’t worry about USMLE Step 1 right now. It’s way too early. Don't worry about it until the second year of medical school.

    06:50 Enjoy your time right now before medical school starts. It's the very last time in which you'll have total and complete freedom. Congratulations on getting into medical school again! Thank you.


    About the Lecture

    The lecture What to Study before Starting Medical School by Mohammad Hajighasemi-Ossareh, MD, MBA is from the course Pre-Med: Preparing for Medical School. It contains the following chapters:

    • Lecture Overview
    • First Years of Medical School
    • Do I Have to Study before Medical School Starts?
    • Can I Start Studying for USMLE Step 1 Now?
    • Lecture Summary

    Author of lecture What to Study before Starting Medical School

     Mohammad Hajighasemi-Ossareh, MD, MBA

    Mohammad Hajighasemi-Ossareh, MD, MBA


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    My opinion
    By Gustavo D. on 07. August 2018 for What to Study before Starting Medical School

    Very good explication, i was thinking to study a lot before starting and this help me a lot to now wath to do