Bloomington lab

Textbook Tips

We suggest that you buy the most useful books by the end of the first week, if not sooner. You will find book-buying tips for each class as you read the Guide. Many you can purchase from a second year at a good price. Many board review books are helpful as supplements to assigned reading, but play to your weaknesses. Get only those you need!

If you’re wondering which to buy, check out the back of First Aid for the Boards (it ranks board review books for each subject). If you can get yourself to go through these review books throughout the year, you will have a huge advantage when it comes time to study for boards. You will also want a Merck Manual. This is a very helpful book with the Problem Based Learning (PBLs) exercises given throughout the year.

Above all, don’t be afraid to ask the second year students for help. The learning curve for med school is steep and we can help.
Good Luck!


A550/A551 Gross Anatomy (O’Loughlin/Doubleday)

This two-semester course requires memorization, patience, and maturity in lab. Humor can alleviate lab stress, but it’s best to wait a few weeks to see what is appropriate. The class approaches the human body regionally (as opposed to systemically). Take good care of your donors as you use them all year. In addition to a professor, there will be two associate instructors to help during lab time.

Lecture can be confusing, but some people found following along in their atlas helpful. Embryology was consistently the most difficult to visualize, and therefore hard to understand, but there are plenty of websites (especially the ones Dr. O’Loughlin provides) to help out.

Exams: Lecture and lab exams are on the same day (what fun). Lecture exams are multiple choice and short answer. Review old exams on reserve in the library - they are helpful in understanding the structure of the exams. For lab exams all bold terms (including diagrams) in the dissector are fair game. Be sure to get a lab list (“big list”) from someone, an AI, a second year, or whoever. However, many students make their own lists and find this extremely useful. All questions on the lab exams require the identification of pinned structures. The final exam is a nationally written shelf exam. Review a few donors in the lab (not just your own).

Texts: Clinically Oriented Anatomy, Sadler’s Embryology (some students preferred a High Yield edition instead), and Grant’s Dissector. In addition, each table in lab will also need a dissector, a Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy, and perhaps a Netter’s Atlas. Wait until you get to lab and then split the cost of these texts with your lab table. You may try to get these from the second year class as lab books become messy and unusable anywhere else.

Outside of lab you will need another atlas. Most students prefer to study using the Netter’s – the pictures are clearer. You can examine both the Netter’s and Grant’s and decide for yourself. Finally, you will want to consider getting Bates’ Guide to Physical Examination and History Taking. There are some assigned readings for this class and it is useful for the PBLs.

C580/C583 Medical Biochemistry (Daleke/Walczak)

This course is a year-long course at Bloomington- the first semester covers molecular and cell biology, and second semester covers traditional biochemistry. If you have a strong background, you will find lecture reasonably easy to follow. Otherwise, try to do some preparation before class so lecture doesn’t go over your head. There are problem sets on the computer that will help as well as copies of old exams.

Exams: five (or so) multiple-choice questions, short answer, essay. These can be difficult. The first semester final is cumulative and the first half of a statewide final. The second half (as you guessed) is after second semester. There is rumor that next year’s final will be the nationally written shelf exam.

Texts: Biochemistry (Stryer 5th edition) and Molecular Cell Biology (Lodish). Both books are useful. Many second year students will probably not mind parting with either.

P531/P532 Physiology (Martin)

This year-long class is clinically relevant. Being in class is reasonably enjoyable and low stress because during every lecture you do a few discussion questions with a partner. Attendance is taken, so show up- you will lose points if you skip.

Lab second semester is fun and includes drawing blood, taking blood pressure, urinalysis, and an exercise lab. Weekly lab quizzes keep you paying attention. Note that while this is a pleasurable class, Dr. Martin has a reputation for giving out the least number of Honors and High Pass grades.

Exams: Multiple-choice and often confusing. Studying only helps to a point because every exam forces you to extrapolate a step (or a few steps) further than what you have learned. There is a cumulative year-long final exam (nationally written/shelf exam) at the end of second semester.

Texts: NMS Physiology – more detailed than lecture or the boards, and Physiology (Costanzo) – a briefer (High Yield like) text. Check with the second year students for either of these texts.

X600 (Patient/Physician Relationship)

This class is the only course that is truly pass/fail. In the fall, you meet once a week for two hours at the hospital. Before class you read several articles and write a brief summary. In class you listen to a different speaker each week and/or have a discussion. Topics vary from medical ethics to alcoholism and stress management. While an hour is not enough time for some of these topics, the main purpose is for us to gain exposure to patient issues early in medical school.

In addition, you will shadow physicians in two specialties including: ER, pediatrics, CHAPS, IU Health Center, OB, or a private office. Some chose to do two sessions with the same specialty and it is a good experience either way. If there is another specialty you’re interested in, ask and the hospital may be able to accommodate you.

The second semester meets at the hospital once a week for four hours. Material covered includes life cycle, psychology, spirituality in medicine, and a variety of other topics. After spring break the focus changes to taking a patient medical history. You will also have a hospice visit and do a write-up of the experience.

Texts: None. Articles to be read are handed out at the beginning of each semester.

M540 Microbiology/Immunology (Hrismolas)

This is one of the best courses you will have in the fall. It is taught at the hospital and is full of the most clinically-relevant material of your first year. Dr. Tom Hrismalos is great because he is a practicing physician and can give actual accounts of almost everything. He will do his best to gross you out with slides of bacterial infections as well as tell you lots of funny stories. Be sure to ask him about the gifts he has received.

While there is a lot of memorization required, consider it time well spent as it is all on the boards. His handouts are complete; know as much as you can from them. You will miss this class second semester.

Exams: The exams will be challenging and thorough. They are mostly clinical vignettes. They are similar to the microbiology questions on the boards. He will occasionally use questions from the back of Levinson and Jawetz text. He does provide old exams. The final is difficult. It is a comprehensive statewide final with 100 microbiology questions and 50 immunology questions. However, if you know the material you will do well.

Texts: Clinical Microbiology and Immunology (Levinson and Jawetz)- Use this to supplement the handouts where necessary. The practice questions in the back are helpful now and possibly for boards. Immunology: A Short Course. Many students did not purchase this book but some found it to be a helpful supplement.

A560 Histology (Mescher/Foley)

This class meets in the fall semester. Lecture can help link Physiology to Anatomy. Make sure that you find everything in lab, even though this can be challenging. Ask questions of the professor, the super-technician (she is great), and the AI. You will see everything if you ask for help and stay long enough. Consider drawing what you see in lab with colored pencils as this helps when reviewing for exams.

Exams: Lecture and lab exams are on the same day. Lecture exams are multiple-choice. Some old exams are provided and are somewhat helpful, as well as a review sheet of terms to know (Mescher). Lab questions are mostly identification in style and can be tough. Don’t forget to study the electron micrographs! The final is a nationally written shelf exam.

Texts: Wheater’s Functional Histology. It is essential for this course and helpful for neurology. You use it in every histology lab session.

X603 Biostatistics

This class you do on your own time, using questions (150) on the computer. After doing these questions a few times you will not only be able to do well on the exam, you will also know all the biostatistics you need for the boards. This is the only class in which you receive a grade based on your percentage and not on class rank. This course was introduced to us early on in the semester and we took the exam in mid-october.

Exam: 30 multiple-choice questions (randomly taken from the 150 practice questions – know these well) taken in the computer lab.

Texts: High-Yield Biostatistics. This book is not necessary, not everyone purchased it, but it is good for boards and it is cheap so go ahead and get it.

M555 Neuroanatomy (Ronan/Meinark)

This spring class is crammed full of information, which means it is easy to get behind. Relating symptoms to lesions is important in this class as well as on the boards. Lecture can be frustrating because integrating the relative positions of all of the different structures is difficult.

Lab helps somewhat with your understanding. Try not to get frustrated with learning structures without knowing (or being able to remember) their function. One way to make lab both easier and more productive is to print out everything from the website that is relevant. Often lab is too short to cover everything, so try to move quickly. You must attend a lab session each week (attendance is taken).

Exams: You cannot use abbreviations or laymen’s terms for any structure or disease. There are two lab exams that are (thankfully) not on the same day as the lecture exams. Lab exam questions mostly ask you to identify structures but also include a few lesion type questions. No practice exams are provided. The final is a cumulative nationally written shelf exam.

Texts: The Human Brain. This new edition is fairly easy to understand. It is useful for the big picture and for clarification, which really helps when lecture is incomprehensible. Reading ahead (if you have the time) also makes lecture easier. The Brain Atlas. This is used in lab. The atlas could be shared in lab but most people purchased it. Try to get both of these from a second year since you don’t need them until second semester.

Places to Study

Jordan Library (lower levels are quiet), little study rooms in basement and on 1st floor (often busy though), Monroe County Public Library (on Kirkwood), Hospital Medical Student Lounge, Law Library (if you can sneak in), Denny’s (late at night), The Union (open til2 am), The Main Library (10th and Jordan, some floors open 24/7).

635 N Barnhill Dr | Indianapolis, IN 46202 | Ph: (317) 274-1965 | Fax: (317) 274-4309