Medical School Courses These Are the Classes Medical Students Take

There are two phases to medical school courses.The first aspect of medical school involves having a foundation in the sciences which is gained by experience in the: 1st year of medical school and 2nd year of medical school.

The second phase of medical school courses is to put your new found knowledge to good use by actually seeing and treating patients. You will find that during the third and fourth year of medical school your time will be spent rotating through a number of specialties to gain wide exposure to the diversity which medicine can offer.

Teaching Formats

The first two years of medical school courses are generally taught, using either the traditional lecture format, the problem-based learning (PBL) style and/or a hybrid of these.

The traditional format is comparable to how you were taught in undergraduate courses. You went to lecture and the professor told you the important concepts and facts. As a student you would then have to go home and assimilate all of this information to pass the upcoming exam.

The problem-based learning (PBL) model is more of a tutorial, where you meet in a small group with your professor. A clinical problem or scenario is presented to the group and they will then decide what are the relevant learning objectives. The group will disperse and at their next meeting (as a group) you will review the case with a firm understanding of the issues. You will learn by doing independent research; speaking with knowledgeable sources; and fact finding at the library.

I would say there is one main difference to the two approaches. The lecture format is for students who want a clear objective of what they need to know while, PBL is for students who like interaction and finding answers on their own. Click here to learn how you will be graded based on either teaching format.

Clinical Rotations

The third and fourth years are the time where a medical student will spend most of his time in a hospital or clinic setting. Here they will actually interact with patients on a daily basis. The goal at this point of your medical training is to give you broad exposure to the diversity of specialties available to you.

Although, you are in a clinical setting you will still be graded. Testing will come in the form of multiple-choice exams, observations of your clinical skills by the attending physicians, and written evaluations of your performance in comparison to your peers.

There are a few rotations required by all medical schools which include:

  • Surgery
  • Internal Medicine
  • Psychiatry
  • Pediatrics
  • Obstretrics and Gynecology (Ob/Gyn)

You will spend approximately 10 months rotating through the above five specialties during your third year. Once these are completed you will be given the opportunity to go on "electives" where you rotate through specialty areas you consider interesting or want to learn more about. Additionally, the fourth year is open because you will need to devote a considerable amount of time interviewing at residency programs throughout the country.
Click here to learn more about clinical rotations.
Additional training after medical school.