Class schedule

The first year class schedule is organized like many undergraduate schedules. Most classes meet M-W-F or T-Th. You will get a fall break, a long winter break and a spring break. The schedule is a bit awkward in that it seems to change everyday so have a copy of the schedule with you or at least have a friend that took the previous piece of advice. The schedule is also very acronym heavy, but so is medicine in general so get used to that. The schedule can be found at

Entire year courses

  • Clinical Problem Solving(CPS)
  • Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM)

First semester courses

  • Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB)
  • Gross Anatomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics

Second semester courses

  • Physiology
  • Histology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology

"You will find that you have every syndrome that you study, which makes the ‘Ebola Virus’ lecture kinda hard to sit through." – Member of Class of 2009

Course Description and Textbook Suggestions

A note about books: Books are there to help you, nobody will ever check to see that you bought or did not buy a book. Keep this in mind as you purchase books before the semester.

For 2014-2015 only microbiology, anatomy and histology sold note packets. Out of these anatomy was required and the other two were optional. I would say histology and micro are highly optional as all the notes are also posted online.You need the notes like oxygen, as nearly all of the questions come from these, but the books you buy should be suited to your learning style. The BRS series, the Made Ridiculously Simple series and the High Yield series of books are all popular study aids for their concise summaries and pre-organized information. Though they don’t always follow the courses exactly, they can be really helpful ways to view things from a different perspective and for their comprehensive lists.Specific textbook suggestions for each class are listed below in the course descriptions. However, for final exams (whether they be NBME or statewide exams) the BRS series, First Aid for USMLE Step 1, and High Yield series are great. Probably the highest yield way of studying for the NBME exams are to use the practice questions in these review books to check your understanding and then review the material that you need more practice with.

Books are available at bookstores, through the IUSM Used Books Sale, and many people chose to purchase online. Many of the textbooks are now available at the library as electronic edition for free. Also the library keeps nearly all of our recommended textbooks and dozens of review books on reserve. You can borrow these for 2hr-24hr intervals and that helps cut costs dramatically for books you aren’t going to be using everyday.

Most classes have grading policies based upon the grade distribution in the class. For example, 10-20% of the class will receive Honors, 30% of the class will receive High Pass, and 50% of the class will receive Pass. Usually you are graded in each course on 2-3 semester exams and a cumulative final, which may be in the form of a statewide final or a NBME final. Statewide finals contain questions from all of the course instructors from the different center campuses, and thus may contain information that was never covered in lecture but is on the core curriculum. You’ll learn more about the statewide finals during each courses orientation lecture (the first lecture for each class), and if you have more questions this is a good time to bring them up with the course directors.

Your success in each course will reflect a combination of things: your interests, background of study, organization, and work ethic. A lot of the time you will be hit with such an overwhelming amount of material that 50% of your energy will be put to just organizing the information in a way that works for you. For example, a lot of students would consolidate their notes into shorter, more concise study guides that they could study from when exams came around. It’s important to find out early on what is most relevant and important to study, and find an efficient way to study that suits your learning style. It’s true that medical school is different from undergrad in that it is more difficult because of the sheer volume of information to memorize. Some classes will feel like complete memorization (Microbiology and CMB), some will feel more conceptual (Physiology) and some will be a combination of both (Anatomy and Biochem). Trust that you will figure out what works best for you as you go along.

Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB)

"I came from a computer science background so I was not familiar with straight memorization and that really hurt me. I didn't realize that I had to basically recite everything back to myself in order to be "good enough" for the exams." –Member of Class of 2011

"Study the notes intensely. A lot of my friends never used another resource for this class. Memorizing all the details found in the class notes is the best way to do well in this class, it just takes some time. –Member of Class of 2011

This class runs the entire first semester. Many people who had biology backgrounds thought it wasn’t that bad, but for those who lacked that background, it was tougher, yet still manageable. There are 3 quizzes, 3 exams and a two part final: An NBME exam and a final exam (constructed using questions submitted by CMB professors from all of the state centers) that may contain questions over material you haven’t had. Don’t sweat it (unless you are a super gunner) - these questions have little, if any, impact on your grade because the curve evens it out. All quizzes and exams are multiple-choice. The professor-recommended textbook is Molecular Cell Biology (Fifth Edition) by Harvey Lodish. Most students did NOT purchase the book for this class and those who did used it mostly as a reference. Some students had it from undergrad or others borrowed one of the copies at the library when questions arose.

Some students found the Cell & Molecular Biology Board Review Series (BRS) book and High Yield Cell & Molecular Biology text helpful both during the semester and during the final exam, but a majority of students rely only on class notes.

Recommended Texts: Molecular Cell Biology (5th edition) by Harvey Lodish
Cell Biology & Histology Board Review Series by Leslie P. Gartner
High-Yield Cell & Molecular Biology by Ronald Dudek.


"Class notes are all you need to do well in this class. I learn by repetition, so I supplemented going to lecture with watching the video recordings later to solidify concepts."- Class of 2010

The Biochemistry professors have done an excellent job at making this class medically relevant. Much of the nitty-gritty detail necessary for undergrad courses has been minimized to focus on the major conceptual ideas. A textbook is not needed for this class.

Test questions come directly from the class notes, and contain both multiple-choice and short answer questions. The objectives given in class handouts generally cover all the test topics and are a good way to reorganize the material for study (especially for the final exam if you already have them written out). The pathways are best learned by repetition, so if you’re a visual learner, write them out, if you’re an auditory learner, re-listen to lectures. You’ll quickly find the best way to study for this course.

Recommended Texts: Board Review Series by Dawn Marks, High-Yield Biochemistry by Bruce Wilcox, and Biochemistry and Genetics: PreTest by Golder Wilson

Gross Anatomy

"An approach to the class that really helped me (visual learner) was to come to lecture with just my Netter atlas so I would have a good visual of what was explained during class and highlight things I needed to know in my book. This would help tremendously in lab right after lecture because you could develop a frame of reference for your dissection. Then later that evening I would watch the lecture to get all the notes down so I wouldn’t have to hastily scribble them down during class." –Member of Class of 2013

"Using textbooks that had real pictures of cadavers helped for lab, such as The Color Atlas of Anatomy by Johannes Rohen. Netter’s is expensive, but it is very valuable for this course. The images and color really help organize the information" –Member of Class of 2011

"Four words to live by in this course: DO NOT GET BEHIND!! Anatomy is a visualization and concept-building course, with the goal being to know Anatomy and not just be familiar with it. I made sure I understood and reviewed my class notes, and then I used practice questions on Angel and in the BRS to solidify the material I had been studying." – Member of Class of 2010

Lectures (every afternoon, MWF) are generally 90 minutes, but may last for two hours on some occasions. The instructors usually present A LOT of material in that time. The volume of material presented and the pace at which it s taught makes the class challenging for most students .Consider using colored pencils or different colored pens when marking diagrams and taking notes – they can make notes much easier to review later.Remember that lectures are recorded, so a lot of people would either watch lectures before class from the previous year (almost identical material) or re-watch that same lecture after class to make sure they picked up everything. Repetition of material is crucial.

The class notes (a packet distributed during orientation) are invaluable and the only major source of information needed to do very well in this course. The anatomy professors will tell you to know the notes COLD. Although, at first this is hard to believe due to the enormous amount of material, it’s true! A section of the written exam will include "multiple-multiple" choice questions, where several statements are listed and you are required to identify how many of them are correct. Therefore, know it all!

In addition, lab practicals go beyond simple identification of specific structures, and also ask questions about innervations, embryonic origin, etc., of the tagged specimen. This requires you to integrate the information you’ve received in lecture with the information you’ve received in lab. Atlases can be a nice resource for integration of lecture and lab material, especially the day/night before tests as the lab closes at noon the day before the exam to set up the practicals. Before you go out and buy books & supplies, see if you can borrow or buy them from an upperclassman (start by asking your peer mentor).

Lab (directly following lecture) is useful to a majority of students, but others do not attend. Try it out and see if it works for you. If you decide to not attend lab, you ought to at least go to prosection. Prosection takes place right before lab and involves a professor or teaching assistant going over how to approach that day’s dissection, along with a laundry list of what you should identify on your cadaver. The professors and TA’s are extremely helpful in explaining things making lab an excellent way to save time and maximize learning in the dissection of your own cadaver. Pay attention to the items stressed in prosection and by the professors/TAs when they stop by your cadaver - most tagged items on the practical are those items heavily emphasized!

If you’d like to get a head start on dissection, or want a new way to review material later, check out a great anatomy video series on the University of Michigan’s website with dissection demonstrations: (

**IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT buy lab materials until you meet your lab group at the white coat ceremony. The lab groups are assigned in alphabetical order, and you are seated in the same order at the ceremony; decide then who is going to buy what so you don’t unnecessarily duplicate materials.

Recommended Lab Gear: Dissection kits and gloves are available in the bookstore. Dissection kits and a Grant's Atlas are included with the lab fee. Dissector by Patrick Tank dissection "lab manual"). Two dissection kits and one, if any, dissector was adequate for most lab groups (some groups never used the dissector, but instead simply asked TA’s for help with the dissections). Buying extra scalpel blades is also a good idea, as the blades may become dull rapidly. Many groups also buy an atlas (Netter’s or another) to leave in the lab. The atlas is often more useful than the dissector.

Whatever your group decides, plan on leaving the materials you take into the lab in there, because everything gets ruined!! On that note, do not wear anything to lab that you would not be willing to burn. You will smell so bad your dog won’t even give you the time of day! Scrubs or old clothes are usually the only thing worn to lab; however, some students bought goggles or a plastic splash guard, but these are only necessary if you’re really concerned about staying clean. Time is allotted between lecture and lab to change clothes and most choose to wait until then to minimize the time they spend in those smelly, stained clothes.

The restrooms near the student lounge and mailboxes are popular changing areas, since they are so close to the lockers where you will store your clothes. You may want to buy a Rubbermaid container to store your scrubs/shoes in your locker to keep everything else from smelling.

Recommended text(s): Atlas of Human Anatomy by Frank Netter (most popular) or Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy by Anne Agur (less popular), and/or The Color Atlas of Anatomy by Johannes Rohen (features actual photographs of cadavers versus the illustrated pictures in the previously mentioned atlases).

Review books: BRS Gross Anatomy by Kyung Won Chung
Anatomy, Histology, & Cell Biology PreTest by Robert Klein

Other Learning Accessories: Plastic skulls (available at the library, the bookstore, from an upperclassman, or online) are needed only if you plan to study at home. Otherwise, many skulls are available in lab, which is open 24 hours a day by door code.

Clinical Problem Solving (CPS)

"Try to have fun in the group and learning about the cases on your own. Make it interesting for yourself. The more you do that the better it will be for everyone in your group." - Member of the Class of 2010

CPS is a full year course and lasts for the first three-quarters of each semester. we were graded on learning objective write ups and participation. Also by an instructor evaluation. CPS is a problem-based learning class that focuses on biochemistry, microbiology, and physiology, while at the same time teaching you to think clinically. Basically, you and a group of students get to play doctor without any risk to the pretend patient.

This course is also designed to teach you to navigate through the many medical reference resources available as you fill in blanks for yourself with each course. There are 4 cases during the first semester and 4 cases during the second semester each lasting three class periods (and which correlate with material in that semester’s courses).

Class meetings are overseen by physicians and researchers, whose main duty is to keep the students on track. Emphasis is placed on development of the problem solving process and students are encouraged to teach and learn from one another. Make sure to participate, as your will be evaluated by your preceptor and peers, which ultimately affects your grade!

Textbooks and laptops w/ internet are used during regular class meetings and for the triple jump. Most students use online resources and some purchase just a few of the recommended texts for reference. It is not necessary to have all of these books since you are working in a group setting. There are also copies available in the medical library, Daly center, or through the internet.

You’ll learn more about the triple jumps later, but basically you have one at the end of each semester: a group triple jump in the fall, and an individual triple jump in the spring. Both allow the use of the internet and involve electronic submissions of exam material, so make sure to become comfortable with performing searches on the internet. (The website is a GREAT starting point for CPS research, since the most popular reference materials are directly linked from it.)

If you choose to rely upon written sources, make sure you’re familiar with the organization of the text and how to easily find material, as the time constraints on the triple jumps can become pretty tight.

Recommended texts: Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine by Dennis Kasper
Merck Manual by Mark Beers
Mosby’s Diagnostic and Laboratory Test reference by Kathleen Pagana
Professional Guide to Signs & Symptoms by Springhouse
Handbook of Signs and Symptoms by Skyscape

Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM)

"The readings usually don’t take too long to do. The incoming first years (that’s you!) may have a question or two to answer about the readings when they come to class, so it’s important to look at the readings. There is a behavioral science portion of the boards, so we’ll need to know the information anyways. Plus it’s kind of nice to read something that doesn’t involve pathways, innervations, or receptors every once and awhile." –Class of 2011

ICM goes all year and is the only class in your medical school career where showing up is essentially all you have to do to pass. There are a few writing assignments, an essay at the end of fall semester, and a quiz at the end of spring semester, but must of your credit comes from class participation.

The class is mostly a feel-good discussion about topics that will influence the way you practice medicine. You meet in a small group setting and will continue to meet with the same ICM students for the two years that ICM takes place. It includes four visits to hospitals to interview and interact with patients. There are also "field trips" to daycares, high schools, and assisted living/nursing homes, along with interviews with group interviews of AIDS patients, and group discussions on medically relevant ethical issues.

Attendance in the small groups is mandatory. Some groups will have students take turns presenting the information covered in the reading to the rest of the group. The amount of organization and work put into these presentations depends on the group and the preceptors.

Whether or not you need the recommended textbooks depends on your preceptor. A significant number of the reading assignments are uploaded onto Angel, and one of your books is given to you free during orientation. Make sure to check with upperclassmen to see if you can borrow or buy the other recommended texts before you look anywhere else!

During the spring semester ICM has optional lectures in addition to small group, and many are on interesting topics that are clinically focused. Consider attending these lectures, as they may be the only time you are exposed to some material before the boards.

There are also the options of being involved in a special ICM groups that will focus on ‘Death and Dying’, and on ‘Medical Spanish’. Students involved in the death and dying groups are paired with a hospice patient with whom they will visit regularly throughout the year. Although you will receive more patient interaction, your time commitment is usually increased by about an hour every ICM meeting.

Students involved in the medical Spanish group learn medical Spanish along with the normal ICM curriculum and travel to Honduras the summer after first-year to practice their medical Spanish and volunteer in the local hospital. You should learn more about these options in the summer months approaching the start of school. Look out for an email!

Recommended Texts: Patient-Centered Interviewing (2nd edition) by Smith
Human Behavior by Alan Stoudemire


"The information you need for the test is presented in the notes, but if you want to really understand the subjects and how they relate to one other (if you haven’t taken an immunology course before) it would be helpful to read the textbook as well." – Member of Class of 2011

"I found that going to class and taking notes, using the audio recordings to fill in the gaps, worked best for me. The textbook was also essential for me to integrate lectures and concepts." – Member of Class of 2010

Immunology is taught in the second semester. Exams come primarily from the notes, but the recommended text is helpful to fill in gaps and reinforce concepts, especially if this is your first experience with Immunology. Several students opted to read the text instead of attending class or in addition if they felt a lecturer was not particularly strong.

Lectures are supplemented by Team-Based Learning (TBL) sessions, which involve small group discussion of topics covered in lecture plus new material. Each TBL begins with an Individual Readiness Assessment Test (iRAT) covering the pre-reading which is often from the textbook and a paper. This is followed by a Group Readiness Assessment Test (gRAT) where each small group discusses the iRAT questions and comes to a consensus on answers to those questions. Both the iRAT and gRAT scores contribute to your grade, and the information covered in TBL is fair game for exams!

A state-wide final is given to all the centers and may contain questions over material you’ve never had. Just as in CMB, don’t sweat it. It’s graded on a curve so it all evens out and doesn’t affect your final grade that much. Some students utilized review books to study for semester and final exams, but most students found old quizzes and exams to be the best study tools.

Recommended Texts: The Immune System by Peter Parham, Microbiology
Immunology Board Review Series by Arthur Johnson
High-Yield Immunology by Arthur Johnson

"Success in medical school is 90% perspiration, 43.5% positive attitude, and about 25% arithmetic." –Member of Class of 2009


"This class meets three times a week for two hours, so if you skip a few lectures, you WILL get behind. Keep up with material and review old material if you have time. Having daily lectures will add up to a lot of information when it comes time to take the final exam. If you conceptualize the information, instead of straight memorizing it, it will make studying for the final much easier." –Member of Class of 2011

"I mostly studied the notes and tried to keep up for quizzes. If you get behind, you get behind quickly. Look at lectures as subjects like "Respiratory" or "Renal" instead of as individual lectures and try to fit them together into systems." – Member of Class of 2010

This is a second-semester course which ties together most of the information you have learned in other classes. You not only learn how, but also why the body works the way it does. That physics from undergrad might actually be applicable as you learn more about the mechanisms of the body. You have this class three times a week so remember those 4 words from Gross Anatomy and DO NOT FALL BEHIND! Quizzes help you stay on track, but you can never study too much for this class since it is the foundation for the 2nd year Medicine course.

This course involves Team-Based Learning (TBL) sessions like Immunology did first semester, but your small group will most likely be your ICM group. Each TBL session follows the same format of iRAT and gRAT, with credit given for the iRAT only. Again, make sure to pay attention to the information given in TBL, because a few questions on each exam come from this material!

Reviewing past quizzes and exams before the weekly quizzes and exams is very helpful, as some questions seem to be recycled year after year. Many students have invested in review books, like BRS Physiology by Linda Costanzo because it follows a similar format to class and is one of the better BRS books along with anatomy. It is in an outline format, however, and lacks explanation. Other options include NMS Physiology by John Bullock, a bigger text that offers supplemental information to advance your understanding from the class concepts, and Physiology Made Ridiculously Simple by Stephen Goldberg, which really condenses concepts into the big picture. Some students use Rapid Interpretation of EKG by Dale Dubins during the cardiac physiology section of the class. Although it is helpful, it is only applicable to a small part of the class. However, it is a book suggestion for second year so it might be worthwhile to use it for both years.

Other great study tools include old exams and practice questions that Dr. Tanner uploads onto Angel. The final for the course is a National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) exam, thus the questions are very clinically oriented. Students strongly recommended the BRS Physiology book or Physiology PreTest by James Ryan as a good study tool for the final. The First Aid for the USLME Step 1 book also has a very good, concise review of all the major systems covered over the course. Several of the recommended texts are available in the library.

Recommended Texts: Medical Physiology by George Tanner or Medical Physiology by Walter Boron, Physiology Board Review Series by Linda Costanza, Physiology PreTest by James Ryan, NMS Physiology by John Bullock, and Rapid Interpretation of EKG by Dale Dubins


"I found that Histo was best learned by repetition. Before each class, I tried to watch the Histo Video online (usually at 2x speed) just so I'd get the gist of what we were about to talk about. Then, in class, certain topics stuck with me better. As far as lab goes, I went and reinforced learning at home with other supplements. I found it helpful to use online resources (BlueHisto and the Masters Histo site) before practical exams. For the written exams, the old exams were very useful to study with. When studying it's also really good to read both the text and the atlas, as they contain testable material that isn't presented in class." – Member of Class of 2010

This particular class consists of a lecture and a lab where you look at tissue slides under a microscope. The vast majority of students say that the Basic Histology by Junquiera is necessary to do well in the class. Some can get by without it, but realize that without reading the text, there will be questions you simply cannot answer. Most students agree: know the book inside and out for Dr. McAteer’s sections; know the notes cold for Dr. William’s sections. Dr. McAteer likes to pull direct sentences from the book for the tests. This book is short and concise compared to most texts.

Some students supplemented or replaced lab with online histology slide databases, with the most popular sites being IUPUI’s Histology site ( and Blue Histology ( One suggestion made by many TA’s is to briefly sketch the structures viewed on the slides as this forces you to observe the slides critically and can help you recall the structures outside of the lab.Few students purchase an atlas such as Wheater’s Color Atlas of Histology, which could come in handy for the lab portion. But most people find that the images provided in Basic Histology by Junquiera and any other images they can find online is sufficient for the lab portion of the class.

To study for the semester exams, students swear by old exams because many questions seem to be recycled, and by reviewing class notes. The final exam for this class is an NBME exam, and many students found the BRS books and Anatomy, Histology, & Cell Biology PreTest helpful, as some cell biology material is covered on the final. There are a lot of topics covered on the histology NBME and histology seems to be the minority compared with cell and molecular biology, so check out the NBME website around finals time to look at the practice questions available before figuring out what to study for the exam.

Recommended Texts: Basic Histology: Text & Atlas by Luiz Junquiera
Anatomy, Histology, & Cell Biology PreTest by Robert Klein
BRS Cell Biology and Histology by Leslie, Gartner


"Learning the information in this course thoroughly is important because it will come up time and time again in pathology, boards, and in the clinic (as heard from upperclassman). The fact that you start learning about different infections and the drugs needed to treat them actually make you feel like a real doctor." – Member of Class of 2011

"I went about this class all wrong until the end. Do not cram for this class! I realized, as I studied for my last two tests, that the best method is to buy a supplemental review source and to follow along with lectures at least a couple times a week. I used Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple -- awesome book, great pictures -- and read through its chapters. I then would make notes from our lectures on its summary tables: this made a great refresher resource to go over the night before the test." –Member of Class of 2010

This class consists mostly of memorizing (read: lots of memorizing) information rather than conceptual ideas, but many diseases and medically relevant material is covered that will prove to be helpful in the following years. Class notes are really the only source needed to do well in this class.

There are many good microbiology texts in the medical library if you need further clarification. A student-recommended board review book is Clinical Micro Made Ridiculously Simple (great cartoons and mnemonics).Another good book that is concise and has good charts for organizing everything is the First Aid book for Step 1.

A student organization will also sell "bug charts" in the beginning of second semester. These help organize the material into a format that is easier to memorize. However, Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple also contains similar charts. A good study approach to the charts is to focus on the differences and similarities between different classes of bugs rather than knowing every fact about every bug. Many students find it helpful to make extensive lists with what bugs cause what diseases and so forth. It helps to condense and summarize information on each bug from the notes so that you can more quickly review the information before test time (remember repetition is key). It is a VERY good idea to look at old exams before test day, there will inevitably be repeat questions and exams give you a good idea of the level of detail you’re expected to know…but keep in mind that material covered and exam difficulty vary from year to year.

This class now has 3 semester exams: one on virology, and one on bacteria, and one on more bacteria plus parasites and fungi. The final exam is a state-wide exam, so try to reference the core curriculum on Angel to find topics that weren’t discussed in lecture. A few questions usually come from uncovered topics, but again, don’t stress out too much because everything evens out with the curve.

Recommended texts: Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple by Mark Gladwin
Microbiology and Immunology BRS by Arthur Johnson

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