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Studying Medicine – My First Year


Having just finished my first year of medicine at Monash University, it is clear to me that my first year studying medicine was not necessarily as I had expected. Having said that, at the start of the year I was very unsure as to what I should expect from the first of five years of my degree. As such, I am going to give you a basic outline of how the first year of the course is structured, and hopefully you can use this to help guide your decision on whether or not Medicine is the right choice for you.


1st year gives you a broad range of content; it touches a lot of aspects of medicine briefly, so that you are exposed to all different facets of the profession.

Here is a very brief overview of some of the major topics:

Much of microbiology in semester one shows many similarities to year 12 biology, however these are covered in a greater detail. It includes topics such as the immune system and metabolism.

Human Anatomy
Human anatomy becomes a major part of the course, as the content is used to form the basis of our practical learning in clinical skills (see below). Anatomy comprises such a large proportion of content, that students must learn from textbooks and other resources, as opposed to relying on lectures. It poses as a challenge for some students, as much of the learning is self-directed, and so, this benefits students who are very disciplined in their study.

Clinical Skills
Clinical skills teaches you practical aspects of medicine such as taking a medical history, and learning basic physical examination techniques which can help form a diagnosis.

You begin to learn about many medications that are commonly prescribed by doctors.

Population Health
Here you learn basic statistical analysis and techniques, which are used commonly in medical research. It is a great foundation for those interested in a career in research.

Health, Knowledge and Society
You are taught how societal factors impact health, as well as governmental impacts upon health (through things such as health policies). This may be of interest to those interested in health policy, and other forms of health care.

How do you learn?

  • Lectures
    • 8-10 x 1 hour lectures per week
    • 300+ people in each lecture (whole Medicine cohort)
    • The lectures are where you learn most of the content (especially in semester 1)
    • These are recorded, so if you miss a lecture, you can watch it online at home
  • Tutorials
    • 4 x 2 hour tutorials per week
    • Around 15 people per tutorial
    • The tutorials are used for building on content that is learnt in the lectures
    • Tutorials involve things such as practical activities and class discussions
    • They are a great time to ask your tutor for help or clarification on uncertain topics as the tutorials are smaller groups
    • The anatomy tutorials involve dissections, and studying imaging such as x-rays and CT scans
  • Problem-Based Learning
    • 1 x 3.5 hours per week
    • You are given a new illness or condition each week which you must investigate
    • Gives you a broad scope of conditions that you may encounter in a clinical setting

Written by Jack a 99th percentile student studying medicine at Monash University.

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