Well, who am I to write about this? I have been in these classes and have done pretty well. Some students have asked me for advise, and so I will offer some suggestions of what has worked for me (and what I have seen work for others).
1) Try to take the introductory human biology class (Bio 100) with Dr. Ezzedine if you can. This is an acceptable prerequisite in lieu of general biology, though it might affect you qualifying for Microbiology in the future. Check with a counselor. Anyway, it covers much of the same info that is presented in the Bio 201 and 202 classes. It is more of an overview of the 2 semesters of A & P. I did this and felt like large portions of the Anatomy and Physiology classes were repeating this information. This will give you more time to process the info, and more times going over it. The benefit, you will probably do better in the class, and you will probably remember more of the core material in the long run.
2) Go to the learning center and have your learning style assessed. Work smarter not harder. If you are an auditory learner you are going make more progress in listening to lectures, and pod casts than in reading or other methods. We should all try to immerse ourselves in many different approaches so that we remember more of the material, but you may be able to save yourself a lot of heartache by focusing on your strengths. In my case, I am a listener, and in some portions of the curriculum I listened to the lectures on my iPod 2 or 3 times and that is all I needed to get it.
3) These are serious college classes, none of the sissy general ed. stuff. Plan accordingly. Often instructors say you should spend 2-3 hours outside of class for every hour in class, but in my experience that is more than you need. Not for these classes. Expect to put in your time; there is no way around it. That might mean that you have to only take 1 or 2 classes so that you can focus. If you have expectations that while taking anatomy you will also have plenty of time for TV watching and hobbies, you will end up feeling like you have been wronged. Just set your mind that learning human anatomy and physiology is one of the main purposes of your life for a couple semesters. It is called sacrifice. That is why the people who persevere and succeed make more money than the rest of us. If you expect to work hard and study you won’t be shocked or disappointed.
4) Remember why you are taking the class, especially when the going gets tough. If you keep your goals in mind (nursing school or whatever) that will keep things in focus when your inner slob is screaming, “why do I need to know this!” Remind your spouse of this often as well.
5) Take it from me, if you are going into the practice of medicine, you will need to understand this stuff. When you are training, your preceptors won’t talk in laymen’s terms. When you are going through CE’s (continuing education) in the future, your teachers will be speaking this lingo. When new drugs or procedures come out, they will be referring to the stuff you learned here. And when you are faced with a sick patient who doesn’t fit nicely into a recipe in some protocol, you will need to think your way through the problem, and all that you have learned will come back to you. I worked as a paramedic for many years and found this to be a lifesaver.
6) Go to the SI (Supplemental Instruction) sessions. They have these for classes with high failure and withdrawal rates for a reason. It is like having a study partner, but more structured. The SI leader communicates with your instructor. It is a great way to help. Students who use SI traditionally score 1 letter grade higher than those who do not.
7) DO NOT MISS ANY CLASSES. Sounds like common sense. But even if you attend all of the classes you will often still feel like you are behind. If you miss a class, you may feel like the task is impossible. Also show up early so that you don’t have added stress. Parking is usually a nightmare for the first 6 weeks.
8) EXPECT TO BE OVERWHELMED EVERYDAY. This has been my repeated experience. Most of us feel like quitting when we are overwhelmed, or at least avoiding the work that is before us. But I recommend that you tell yourself that every new class will give you information that you don’t understand, and that this will seem like an academic Everest. Be assured that this feeling of being “lost” will slowly erode as you go over the material again and again. I have been surprised by how many times this has happened to me. It helps me to tell myself that this feeling is normal, and that it will go away. Just think of when you learned to drive. Everything made you nervous: driving at night, checking your blind spot, getting lost, etc. But now you can do it with a Big Mac in one hand and the radio on. Why the change? Because you have done it many times.
9) See the instructors during office hours if you have questions or need help. They all say this every semester, yet very few students go in for help. But think about it, your instructors are really the best ones to help you through some confusing point. They are the experts; they are going to write the exams! Also, they will often see your effort and be willing to do more to help you if they see you are willing to stretch and sacrifice.
10) Do whatever extra credit is offered. It will help you learn and might push you over the edge on a borderline grade. Better to have more points than you need. If can do it, I recommend taking the time to do a Cadaver project. You can get lots of extra credit from this, and learn a lot about anatomy and yourself. If you do it you will know what I mean, MWAHAAHAA HAA! Also it is likely that several questions on the lab practical test will come from your work! Easy points! Also the teachers are eager to help you with this stuff.
11) Buy and listen to the lectures a second time. When I took the class I listened to Professor Langjahr’s lectures, even though I was not taking his class. I did it, and helped me immensely to hear the same material covered by 2 different teachers. Professor Langjahr is probably the best teacher I have ever had. He is tough, but if you want to learn you will enjoy the work. In any case you can buy the CD’s in the IMC, or get them off of the pod cast site. Just ask him.
12) Spend some time focusing on effective methods for memory. Things like acrostics, mneumonics, flash cards, etc. may seem like voodoo or tricks, but applied properly these memory aids can not only help you remember the material, but do it with much less work!