Pharmacology Class Review and Study Tips

This is a long post and I wrote it when the electricity went out at 1 AM last night. Thank GOD, my laptop had enough juice to keep my busy.  It was pitch black outside when the electricity went out and at 1 AM it’s not a good idea to go out alone in Bonaire.

Pharmacology, in MD3, is the hardest class in Saint James School of Medicine. It’s not hard in terms of understanding concepts but it’s hard due to the amount of information a student has to comprehend and memorize. Students have to study for Pharm and on top of that they have to study for Pathology I class and Microbiology. Each of those three classes requires a good amount of dedication but Pharm requires the most amount of dedication.

Dr. B teaches Pharmacology at 8 AM so, upcoming MD3 students, you better be awake for this class. Dr. B also teaches Embryology class for MD1 students, as mentioned in an earlier post. Pharmacology takes Physiology, Microbiology, and some Pathology concepts and incorporates that with the use of drugs. If you thought Histology was hard in your MD1 class, wait till you take this class, it will boggle your mind.

The block tests for Pharmacology are all clinical based. Dr. B wastes no time in giving out straight forward questions; he gives you clinical scenarios and asks you which drugs are best for the patient to take. Block one test is the easiest test, you will learn the foundation of Pharmacology and which receptors trigger which reaction in the human body. Block one test is easy once you understand the concepts backwards and forwards. Block one exam has to deal with more Physiology so you can figure out the answers on the test if you know the basics. Block 2-4 tests have to do with memorizing drugs, their classifications, their modes of action, their adverse effects, and their uses for whichever diseases.

Dr. B does confuse the class from time to time when he breaks down what we need to study for SJSM’s block tests and what we need to study for USMLE Step 1 exam. Honestly, I could care less about USMLE Step 1 at that time; I’m more concerned about passing Pharmacology than studying for USMLE Step 1. After teaching us a concept he mentions the chances of it being on Step 1 exam in percentage wise; and this confuses us even more with all the volume of information we already have in our hands. However, Dr. B is extremely knowledgeable in his field and he teaches very well. From block 2-4 his teaching is a bit off due to the subject but he will take the time to help you if you don’t understand. If not all I still remember a good amount of Pharmacology taught to me.

When he comes into class he will waste no time waiting for everyone to quiet down. Dr. B will start lecturing over the noisy class. Usually the people in the front rows quiet down and the people in the back are the ones who take time being quiet. He will keep an eye on who on attends class and who conducts well on his tests.

Attendance is a big factor in Dr. B’s class. If you come to class everyday and pay attention or study once you get home then you will pass. If you miss his classes then you may as well pray that you get high scores in his tests. Pharmacology is a difficult subject and most people in the class gets around 70s or above and that’s considered good because it’s a two semester class packed in one. Pharmacology concepts are condensed to be taught in the 16 months curriculum of Basic Sciences. In the last block test I wasn’t that worried about Pharmacology because my good attendance helped me out. I passed all of my previous tests so I wanted to concentrate on other subjects which I was weak on. There are other people who’s grades were very low but since they attended his class, it showed their effort, Dr. B showed them mercy and they passed. If a student has poor attendance and did porly on tests then he/she will have no help if his/her final score is not a passing mark.

Study Tips
Pharmacology is mostly about memorization and, just like histology, repetition is the key. You should get stacks of notebook paper and write and re-write the drugs over and over again until they are stuck to your head. Studying the same material everyday will store the information in your long-term memory. Dr. B’s slides are a bit all over the place because there is so much information on there but he will not test you on all that information and nor will they show up on USMLE Step 1. One way to study well in his class is using Kaplan Pharmacology book as a guide. You should highlight, on the book, what is on Dr. B’s slides so you can easily study for his tests without trouble. Dr. B will also point out the “drugs of choice” for certain diseases; make sure you learn that hardcore because those are easy questions. Most of his questions ask you what is the best choice so more than one drug can be the answer, but when it comes to the drug of choice (“DOC”), then only one drug is the correct answer.

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