Welcome to Med School. You’ve done it. Congratulations!
Undoubtedly, you’ve worked very hard to get here, and Pre-Med is a year that allows you to take a break from heavy workloads and enjoy your new college life. Like any course, you will need to keep an eye on academics, but Pre-Med really gives you the time to get the most out of your first year at Uni. We’ve put together all the best tips & tricks we picked up along the way to help you out.
Most importantly, throw yourself into college life. You get out what you put in. This is the perfect year to get to know your classmates, make new friends, attend social events, and join clubs and societies. Medicine is unique in that you’ll be with the same group of people for a long, long, long time, so the friends you make this year could very well end up being your friends for life.
A brief note on academics… the main type of exam for the year will be MCQ (multiple choice question). These types of exams tend to be easier than long essay questions. Generally, your grade for each module is determined by a final exam combined with an in-term assignment (lab write-up, group project, tutorial questions). Make your life easier by maximizing your grade in the in-term assessments so you can lock in some points before the final exam.
Anyway, more than enough talk about exams, Pre-Med is about having a good time. So, in the immortal words of Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves: “be excellent to each other and party on dudes”.
Don’t laugh, zoology is actually a close runner-up to being the most “medicine-y” module of the semester since you’ll be learning about insect-related diseases from Professor Wilkinson. Labs and the project are marked a little tough but, again, failing shouldn’t be a worry. It’s an interesting subject with an interesting lecturer.
Basic Principles of Cell Biology
As someone who didn’t even do biology for LC (yes, we exist), you’ll be fine in this module and learn some pretty basic fundamentals. Professor Taylor is a legend (-ary lecturer) and out of every module, you will genuinely want to attend this one. The subject is more in depth than the LC course so don’t just rely on your previous knowledge. Some of the lectures on DNA replication and proteins can be complex but overall it’s a very manageable subject. The group project worth 30% is just drawing and labeling a cell but it’s marked a little tough. The MCQ is very doable - as long as you’ve attended the lectures…
Applied Intro. & Physical Chemistry
Probably the most challenging module you’ll do this semester but not hard at all to pass. Your professor is going to be strongly on your side helping you pass so even when the material gets tricky (and it definitely does going well past Leaving Cert level chemistry) don’t panic, Professor Gil Lee has your back. You’ll end up doing some pretty involved chemistry and it may be a worry for those of you who haven’t done chemistry before but the tutorials are a good learning opportunity. A lot of the concepts go beyond LC (like entropy, detailed acid-base interactions and reaction rates) so everyone will be in the same boat. Make sure you submit your assignments and attend your labs, they’re guaranteed marks that you’ll want to pick up before facing those class quizzes. You’ll need a lab coat for this module and you can pick one up in the SU shop on campus (in the James Joyce Library by the Lake), and get a Howie type coat because you’ll need this one specifically for anatomy labs in the coming years.
Physics in Medicine
This module is a little tricky… The lecture slides aren’t the most straightforward, and the lectures are just a recap of the slides… Our advice is to give the slides your best shot before each lecture but supplement them with the fine work of Khan Academy (online video tutorials) or a LC physics book, it should cover a lot of it. The test questions can be tricky so watch out but you’ll be fine with these online exams. Attend the labs for some guaranteed marks too.
If you’ve done physics, you’ll definitely be helped in this module. Some of the details of radiographic imagery are quite technical and not always explained intuitively. It’s still very doable regardless of having done physics and will probably be the closest you get to medicine in semester 1. The weekly assignments will be draining to your spirit but, honestly, the workload for the semester is minimal and this little hiccough from the relaxing of premed shouldn’t be an issue. That said, it is pretty interesting to learn about the various scans and imaging. Make sure you keep to the outline of the project and focus on the imaging, not the condition because you’ll be slated in the marking otherwise.
Patients, Doctors & Healthcare
This module is essentially a collection of free TedTalks. Every lecture is from a different guest lecturer (usually consultants), who come in and talk about their area of expertise. The assessment is a group presentation on a research paper for 100%. It’s not too much work and can be interesting depending on your chosen piece of research.
Physics in Medicine 2 is quite a straightforward module. You’ll be introduced to the concepts of electricity, magnetism, electromagnetism, and modern physics. If you studied physics for the leaving cert, a lot of these topics will be very familiar. Don’t worry if you didn’t, the format of this module is a lot easier to follow than the previous Physics module, and there are past papers available if you need to practice a topic you aren’t as confident with. Labs will help you lock in 20%, with the remaining 80% going on MCQ.
Science, Medicine & Society
This module looks at a range of topics around recent discoveries and topical issues in science and medicine. For our year, there was a special focus given to ‘Translational Research’ and the group essay on this topic is worth the majority of your grade (60%). The remainder of your grade is achieved in the RDS at the end of the year. The MCQ is composed of two or three questions on each lecture so you will have to pay attention to the facts and figures mentioned throughout the semester. However, a good grade is very attainable in this module.
Organic Chemistry (Med)
For this module, past papers are your best friend. The material can be pretty tricky but many students found the lecturer very helpful when they asked questions. If you are really struggling you should look into getting a tutor. Pro tip: Try to maximise your score in the take home assignments as this will secure a cool 20% of your grade.
Inorganic Chemistry (Med)
Again, the best way to prepare for this 1 hour final is… drum roll please… past papers! Many students managed a very good result in this module despite the scary final exam (worth 100% of the grade) as the past papers contain everything you need to know. If you are struggling in this module you should seek out a tutor or take a look at some online tutorial videos (e.g. Khan Academy).
This is a really interesting module that finally has you feeling like a Med Student. You’ll learn all about genetic diseases and their causes. The lectures are easy to follow but it is probably the most information-dense module in semester 2. You’ll need to start studying for the end exam (worth 75%) early in the semester as there is a lot to learn and your answers will require detail. Be sure to make your life easier by claiming the other 25% on the group project! While it is one of the more challenging modules, it is probably the most interesting and will definitely be useful in future years. (Enter 2nd Med Genetics…)