Studying Physiology & Pathophysiology in PA School

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

I get a lot of questions on the best ways to study for medical physiology and pathophysiology from students. Now that we're in the third and last (thank goodness) semester of phys/pathophys, I thought I'd look back on what study methods I've cultivated over the last 2 and a half semesters.

Our professor is very detailed and expects us to know pretty much every single word on her PowerPoints. So while making a condensed study guide for our other classes is an option, it isn't an option for this class.

Make a study guide: I usually just copy and paste the entire outline from the powerpoint into a word document (I try to do this before class, if not then during). Then I format it and color code things that go together. Once I'm done, I print it out. Something about seeing the information on a piece of paper that I can flip without having to swift through slides is more efficacious for my brain. For those of you who have a little bit more flexibility then we do, make a condensed version of your notes that you can use to review the material. I would suggest adding any pictures that are included in your powerpoints as it helps us remember the mechanisms and pathways if we see it in a different way.

Refer to the book: I didn't use to need to do this until this semester. The kidneys are an exceptionally challenging organ to learn and I needed as much explanation in any different way that I could get. We use Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology in our program. They also have a "baby Guyton" that has is good for a quick review. I used to use it all the time in the summer semester but then started needing more then just quick facts.

Write/draw it out: sometimes when there's too many subgroups of things, I like to make a flow chart to link everything together. If the material is very dense, I also handwrite just the things I have trouble remembering on a separate sheet of paper to refer to quickly while studying or before quizzes/an exam. I also draw out any mechanisms or ion exchange across a cell if I'm having a hard time absorbing the information by just reading it.

Repetition is your best friend: phys is hard for almost everyone. It takes a lot of hard work to solidify these concepts in your mind. Therefore, the more times you review a lecture, the easier it will be for your brain to start making connections.

Develop good habits early: that goes for any class but phys especially since it's so time consuming. Do not let it pile up so that you have to cram for it, because it always comes up in other classes. If you learn it right the first time, it makes your life easier down the road. No, I don't remember everything I've ever learned, but when I see it again, it does come back and I have to spend less time going over it.

Quiz yourself: one of our classmates religiously makes flashcards on quizlet for every phys ppt. A lot of us use them to quiz ourselves after reviewing a lecture. It helps you see what you get and what you need to spend more time on. Simply reading the notes isn't enough.

Try to verbally explain the concepts: to your dog, your roommate, classmates, or even to the walls if you have to. If you can talk through something without looking at your notes, you've got it. Move on to the next task.

Other resources: some people in my class watch youtube videos sometimes. I have pulled up Khan academy once in a while and also use my PANCE Prep Pearls book for a quick review. This book is also another great resource I refer to from time to time. I'm sure there are a lot more out there but these are the ones I have personal experience with (all of these opinions are my own and I am not receiving any compensation for my opinions).

How do you like to study for physiology and pathophysiology? Share you suggestions and any questions below in the comments section.

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1 comment :

  1. I really appreciate your blog! It's not just helpful, it's inspiring. Thank you <3