STAGE THREE

Semester 1

Neurosciences:

Emboldened by the knowledge that one of you, at most, will become a neurologist, the powers-that be have naturally decided that an outrageously difficult module on the nervous system is just what the 2nd Meds need. This subject, though containing roughly the same number of lectures as the rest, is very heavy on material (but also very interesting). Tom Flanagan’s lectures are (as always) comprehensive, and his dissections are the most structured classes you’ll ever attend. The in-term dissection tests are designed so that you’ll go into the exit exam with as near to 20% in your back pocket as possible. The CAL histology assignment is handy, just be sure to have your answer well planned. As for tutorials with Pat Felle – prepare to be put on the spot-  extremely helpful though, especially if you’ve looked over the material briefly beforehand (same with dissections). In terms of texts, you definitely need a neuroanatomy book, and Crossman and Neary is the best call. UCD also recommends Monkhouse's Cranial Nerves book, which is cheap and useful - it's worthwhile getting too – knowing the cranial nerves is extremely helpful. Essays and MCQs for exit exam – look out for hints and tips from the lecturers. There’s a lot of understanding in this module so take your time with it. If all else fails, just know you’re not alone in the confusion –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQjgsQ5G8ug

MED (Mechanisms of Disease):

The title is intentionally vague, because this module doesn't really have any one subject - it's just a cluster of little ones. Basically, it's made up of Pharmacology, Pathology and Microbiology, with a similar number of lectures for each. Pharmacology looks complicated and mathsy sometimes, but it isn't really. Pathology is quite boring, and has reams of information to learn off. Microbiology is better, but get used to Dr Chan's machine-gun delivery - he feeds details constantly for 50-60 minutes and he can be tough to keep up with, but he quickly grows on you (just like bacteria eh?). The important thing to realise is that all three of these mini-subjects will form the basis of your modules in Pathology and Therapeutics for the rest of Medicine, so it's worthwhile learning the material now to avoid repeating yourself. For background reading, you can borrow Microbiology or Pharmacology texts from the library, but it may be worth actually buying a pathology text. A lot of your modules are pathology-oriented from now on in Medicine and Robbins Basic Pathology or Underwood will be useful for the rest of the degree. The exams aren't too difficult.

GIT:

This module is divided between anatomy (Dr. Feeney and Dr. Last) and physiology (Dr. Cummins). They both put comprehensive notes on Blackboard, which cover most of their lectures. You'll only need your standard anatomy and physiology texts for this one.

The end exam is worth 100% of your marks and consists of MCQs, with negative marking, so it can be tricky! Dr. Feeney will really focus on relations of anatomical structures on the exam (where things are in relation to each other). This module, like many of the first semester modules, contains a fair bit of embryology which it is hard to convince yourself has any merit towards your future doctoring. Some students opted to avoid embryology and some of them were caught out, so be careful. In our year embryology came up in every exam and although it doesn’t make up a large portion of the total content, lecturers seem to love to bring it up in exams!

 

Locomotor:

 

Featuring James Jones, of the Coakley Fan Club, this module is rote learning at its best. He breaks down the sections of the lower limb nicely, but there is a lot of information to cover.

Exam papers are the most helpful thing for essays during study week – its handy if you consult these throughout the semester to see what comes up most often (eg. There is always a bone, nerve, vascular, muscular and foot question!)

In the exam there are mandatory drawings of structures, so it’s hard to be vague with those! It can be tough to write an essay of any length about something as grimly factual as lower limb anatomy, so you do need to have a decent level of knowledge about it all. The MCQs can be tricky and quite particular so take your time reading them, and just take a guess as there's no negative marking. Again, the in-term dissection tests give you a nice little boost if you do well in them, a bit of prep before the dissection room never went amiss for any of these tests!

 

Endocrine:

 

This one is an even mix of anatomy, physiology and histology and is covered in a logical manner (learning each gland at a time). The CALs give you the chance to work at your own pace, and no one will check on the work you’re doing or stop you from leaving early. The quizzes are given every 3-4 weeks, in a CAL type format. They can be pretty tough, so they’re worth studying for to get yourself as close to 30% as possible going into the exam! This module is probably one of the easier in the semester and a lot of the material is somewhat interesting and easy to learn. If you study for the quizzes you’ll have done a lot of the exam prep ahead of time and can focus on the neuro giant… Just be wary that Crossey likes to catch you out, so prepare for some super specific questions on the exam and quizzes.  In 2018, many people were surprised by the difficulty of the exam questions – they were much harder than the sample questions he gave as practice.  Be wary of this and just try to keep up with it throughout the semester by preparing thoroughly for each CAL test.

Also, the dissections regularly involve cutting up genitals, so you can probably leave your lunch till after those.

Elective: Basic Principles of Trauma

 

This is the medical-oriented module for first semester and is a good call. It seems daunting in September but stick with it - it's interesting enough and not particularly difficult. Make sure to get to all Dr Jones' lectures, because his notes on Blackboard leave a lot to be desired. Most of the questions were things Jones said in class, in his extremely soft-spoken voice, so be sure and sit near the front!

Semester 2

General

This builds on what you learned in Semester One and introduces your first full modules in Pharmacology and Pathology. None of the modules is quite as difficult as Neurosciences, but some of them are even tougher in terms of material. . Our advice is to not ignore Cardiovascular and Renal, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the easiest of the five modules (Disability certainly takes this one)! Try and keep on top of the material, and go to any tutorials that are offered.

Also, if you could devise some novel way of staying on top of Oncology and Immunopathology that doesn't involve sacrificing your social life to the study gods, that’d be great.

Cardiovascular and Renal Disease

Your first proper pharmacology & pathology module, this looks at the heart and vessels for the first half, and kidney for the second, alternating between pathology and therapeutics. The coordinator, Craig Slattery, began as module-coordinator relatively recently and is unbelievably sound (Note: He emails you the night before every lecture to remind of the time and to  let you know that the slides are up). The lectures are given by a mix of doctors from the hospitals (Yes, that means some will be at 8am) and from other folks specialising in pharmacology. Most of us found the pathology lectures far better than the pharmacology ones. The cardiovascular section is much more straight-forward than the renal section of the course. There’s a lot of information but it should all come together during study week.

The kidney section is a lot more tedious, but you need to know it all for the final exam so you should definitely stay on top of it (especially Glomerular Disease). Make sure you attend Peter Holloway’s lectures. He covers an insane amount of very detailed material, but going to his lectures really helps. On the plus-side, the lectures are so very lengthy that you don't need any background reading or extra information. The final exam was based off previous years papers so make sure to look at them on sisweb. Also definitely attend the last review lecture given by Dr. Slattery, he guided us towards certain  parts of the course that did appear on the final exam.

 

Oncology and Immunopathology

The killer word in the title of this subject is 'and', which implies that you're covering two ridiculously large topics in one module. Sadly, it's true, and you should prepare for a subject that has little sympathy for your life outside of medicine. This is definitely one you want to attend the lectures for. A lot of the slide material is built on in class, and can be really confusing to read by itself. The module can be split up into sections, which makes it easier to study and revise (Introductory lectures given by Melinda Halasz, neoplasms, pharmacology, autoimmune disease, immunology). The guest lecturers are also really really good, and make you feel like you’re actually starting to study important stuff. In our year the exam covered almost every aspect of the course with a few questions from each lecture. Saying that, a lot of people did very well in it. Histology questions also came up in our exam (Dr. McCann did say this during the first lecture, and low behold it rang true). They were images from the CALs on blackboard, so make sure to look at them. Some lectures leave you jaw-dropped with their sheer amount of material and seemingly little amount of text. Some did outside reading from high yield texts (I recommend Goljan Pathology plus Robbins) and you'll be set, but it s certainly not necessary to get the top grades.

A lot of people didn’t look at or attend the last few lectures because of the sheer number of slides but they did appear on the exam so make sure to have a quick look over them. The formative assessment is also useful to give you an indication of how much work you need to do during study week.

Overall it’s actually a really interesting module and was probably my favourite of the semester. The slides are most very comprehensive but for reading, a lot of the lectures are taken largely from Robbins, and it will also cover any extra material you need. For chemotherapy, I don't think the recommended text (Bennett and Brown) is any use and would try something else - Katzung or Rang and Dale are both better. A fantastic high-yield resource for oncology, immunopathology and  all the pharmacology components of the module is the First Aid for USMLE Step 1.

 

Disability

Previously, the module coordinator for this was Dr. Last and we heard that it was extremely difficult to do well in. For our year and presumably from now on, the module coordinator is Dr. Catriona Tiernan, who you may recognize from the anatomy labs last year. She’s probably one of the nicest staff members in Health Sci!

This module is made up of many different lectures given by almost all guest lecturers from the NRH, from patient advocates, and from some more familiar faces (You should go to any lecture from Dr. Last or Mark Pickering). There are a number of anatomy labs focussing on muscles of the back. It is worth going to these because you don’t get lectures on this material, but it is a major component of your final exam. You also get to visit the NRH one morning and take a history from a patient (how exciting!). 25% of the marks for this module go on a Disability Presentation, for which you prepare and present a topic based on your patient in the NRH. The tough bit comes after your presentation, where a two-doctor panel grills you on all your material, and you'll need to know everything in consummate detail for this part. Finally, to add to the fun, they are also prone to asking a question or two about anything you've covered in Medicine so far that even remotely relates to your topic: our subject was 'Phantom pain in traumatic amputees' and somehow we ended up desperately trying to explain pediatric fracture classification. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

This course has an MCQ followed by an EMQ. The EMQ is comprised of diagrams and we had to match the muscles/bones/landmarks to their names. It was one of the easiest exams I’ve sat in UCD and people did really well in it.  It requires no extra reading and can be covered in the last few weeks of term.

 

Principles of Infection

One of the only subjects this semester that doesn't seem like two squashed into one, this module just covers infections, plain and simple. It takes you through the patterns of the most common infections, the microbiology of the major bacteria and viruses that cause them, and almost everything you need to know about the antibiotics used to treat them. The Exams can go into quite a lot of detail concerning actions and side effects of these drugs, Dr. Koon Meng Chan is brilliant, but you should be prepared for 60 minutes non-stop of medical facts (he's not a fan of the idle chatter), interspersed with the occasional photo of flowers (he's funny like that). The rest of the lecturers are also good, and seem to know their topics. 'Practicals' in this module are really just extra tutorials, where a lecturer will revise the culture of bacteria and viruses. They’re extremely good and tend to cover the material that will come up on exams, so pay a lot of attention to this stuff! People seemed to like Chan’s tutorials the best, and towards the end of the semester you’ll notice the ones given by him being absolutely packed. Exams are straightforward in this - you either know the answer or you don't and you'll get the marks you deserve. As for text, many people swear by 'Clinical Microbiology made ridiculously simple', so consider that. For antibiotics, Bennett and Brown still isn't much use, and you should try Katzung or Rang & Dale.

I can't stress how important the module review is at the end of semester.  Dr Chan manages to review all of the essay topics that DO appear on the final! Use this review alongside the lectures, past exam questions, and high yield texts and you will get through the module without much hassle.  

PS: Be wary of the Extended MCQs (EMQs) – this is probably your first real exposure to this type of exam question so attempt the practice ones on Blackboard!

Genetics, Perinatal and Paediatric Diseases

This is Mechanisms of Disease all over again - three odd subjects cobbled together into one new module - but in fairness, the topics are all quite similar and the whole thing fits together pretty well. Genetics is largely a reprisal of your genetics module in premed, but most of the clinical lectures are, in fact, delivered in less detail than the original premed module. If you do still have access to your old notes, use them. However, the lab-oriented genetics lectures - Southern Blotting and karyotyping and the like - are covered a little better in this module, and now might be a good time to go to the lectures and finally understand what FISH stands for. All the Perinatal and Paediatric ones are new material, and worthwhile going to - the lecturers are recruited from the maternity hospitals and they keep things interesting, relevant, and to-the-point. Overall, this module seemed easier to me than the rest, and you can hope to do well in exit exam. When revising, do learn your various genetic abnormalities in detail - MCQs can specifically ask which mutation causes what disease, and your best bet is to make a separate table of all the mutations from the genetics lectures and learn it off. You have one assignment due around the middle of the semster. It’s a case study, and the hardest part is the tiny word limit of 200 words. Most people did well in it. The exam will cover one condition in detail (in the exact same case study format) for the written portion, so you really have to know the specific conditions and mutations well if you want to write a halfway decent response. Past papers are key here, they ask the same diseases all the time. Good to mention that the case study question on the final uses the NON-abbreviated names for all genes/mutations. So, on the exam, if you see all these names that you haven't quite come to terms with while reviewing, just take some deep breaths and know that they have abbreviated forms.  The tutorials are helpful and are relevant so it’s worth attending them. In terms of background reading, a book isn't really necessary for the genetics part, and you can use your books from Principles of Infection for the lectures about infections (I found both Goljans Pathology and First Aid for USMLE Step 1 particularly handy).

 

Overall

Overall, despite the slightly increased workload, this year isn't that bad. Do not be drawn into the illusion that you must study night and day in order to achieve anything, or that this is the year that you 'finally have to start working' (that's next year, or maybe the one after…) Keep up whatever you do for fun outside Medicine including the endless 21st season, do take part in Med Day and attend Med Ball, and don't get intimidated by those people who are planning their second research session this summer. Spontaneity is as good an excuse as ever for a night out, and those who spurn you will probably end up having a nervous breakdown before they graduate anyway.

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