Year 2 Survival Guide

globeThe second year of preclinical medicine becomes more clinically relevant. There is a lot more content than in the first year, but you'll find at least some of this information cropping up in your stage 1 clinical placements. You have three full modules and two half modules to balance throughout the year. Biology of Disease (BOD), Neurobiology of Human Behaviour (NHB), and Mechanisms of Drug Action (MODA) are the full modules, and Head and Neck anatomy and Human Reproduction (HR) are the half modules. The key to success in year 2 is to keep up with the work throughout the year!


pillMechanisms of Drug Action (MODA):

MODA's actually one of the shorter full modules in second year. It is, however, crammed full of information, all of which may be examined in the MCQ paper at the end of the year. Although much of the year focuses on the physiology underpinning drug function and diseases, the MCQs tends to be directed towards the drugs themselves. Note that the MCQ paper IS negatively marked. Many students find flashcards the best way of approaching the epic drug lists. If you're not a fan of writing two-hundred flash cards by hand, I point you towards ANKI, a simple programme that allows you to create fairly bespoke flashcards before grilling you on them (press button at the top of the page to link to website). You will be given two drug lists during the year. Any drug from list 1 can be examined in the MCQ paper. Drug list 2 is more for interest, and so I would avoid it unless especially keen. To study for the practical exam, get hold of Jenifer Koenig's books - they cover everything you need to know to nail the practical exam.


Neurobiology of Human Behaviour (NHB):

NHB is an absolute monster of a course, comprising three distinct sub-courses: NHB, neuroanatomy, and neurophysiology practicals. These are examined in two exams: a large short-answer paper for the lecture-based NHB course, and a second practical exam split into two steeple chases - one for neuroanatomy and one for neuro practicals. Unlike first year anatomy, neuroanatomy is assessed using pictures of prosections and diagrams, which makes the exam slightly more difficult if there's a dodgy image. Teaching for neuroranatomy is analogous to first year anatomy, without the dissection component. In each 'dissection' session, you will be presented with posters, prosections, cerebral angiograms, models, and microscope slides, and it is up to you to gain as much as you can from each session. All of the information from the neuroanatomy exam is found collectively in the handbook and on the material presented in each session. This information, rather frustratingly, is not found on moodle. The link to the PDN website, which contains the added info (posters, scans etc) is found at the top of the page. The neurophysiological practicals are taught by way of experiments and a handbook. These are examined as a half an hour steeple chase with 3 questions, each lasting for 10 minutes. Each question is supposedly based on a separate practical or topic within the practicals, and all the information you need to answer the questions will be either in the handbook or given to you in the sessions. It's very important that you take note of the results of the experiments, as these will underpin the exam content. To learn the lecture content, there is really no way other than to trawl through the fairly comprehensive handouts and fill in gaps in understanding using a reasonable textbook - 'Neurophysiology' (Carpenter) is an incredible book for this, as it's presented in a systems-based manner, much like the first term of the lecture series. For the psychology component, the lecture notes and slides should suffice. Consolidate your knowledge by going through past papers; questions tend to repeat quite often, so it's very much worth doing all past-papers as far back until the questions become outdated.


Biology of Disease (BOD):

BOD is a fairly daunting lecture course, not because of the content itself, but because of how it's examined. There are two papers - a practical paper and an MCQ paper. The MCQs require a very detailed knowledge of course. Thankfully, questions tend to be very very similar between past papers. It's worth familiarising yourself with the 'style' of question at the start of the year, just to understand how much detail you're expected to know. Just like MODA, the MCQ paper is negatively marked. You may find it useful to learn the bacteria, viruses and parasites using flashcards. Despite its difficulty, BOD is definitely worth studying well and remembering, as it underpins the 'clinical pathology' course in the third year. The practical paper is based on the practical sessions you have throughout the year. Although the handouts online are quite reasonable, it's worth creating your own notes with microscopic images as you go - this saves quite a lot of time when it comes to revision (clicking hundreds of links on the handouts can become quite laborious!). The practical exam is a written exam, requiring analytical skills and knowledge of microhistology of the diseases that pop up through the course. Believe it or not, this exam's actually quite fun! 



Human Reproduction (HR):

The human reproduction course is one of two 'half courses' in second year, the other being head and neck anatomy (see FAB in year 1 survival guide for info on this). Unfortunately, although the lecturers themselves are very good, the handouts for this particular course are not exactly fantastic. One approach to overcome this problem it to write up each lecture, incorporating information from the slides and from the handout. The MCQ exam at the end is NOT negatively marked, and tends to be quite fair. Be warned that there is a reasonably heavy focus on medical ethics, so don't neglect these lectures! Throughout the year, you have a series of practical sessions, which is examined through a practical steeple chase, with questions on microscope slides, diagrams, and demographic data. Once again, everything you need to pass the exam is either in the handout or accessed through moodle (for histology slides). Unlike BOD, MODA and NHB, where text books aren't really necessary to do well, it may be advisable to get your hands on 'Larsen's Human Embryology' (Schoenwolf et al.), for a decent chronological account of embryogenesis, and 'Human reproductive biology' (Jones and Lopez) to fill in any other gaps that pop up throughout the course.