The Learning Environment

The learning environment at the Muncie center is conducive to any kind of learning style or habit. Some people in our class study at the center all the time, others stay at home, and some have even been known to hit the books at Burger King. Whether or not you want to come to class is your choice (with the exception of anatomy lab, microbiology and ICM).

The professors have offices in the building and they are conveniently available during the day and always via email. The classrooms have new projectors, a huge screen for power point lectures, and comfortable chairs at each table. Occasionally we have lunch provided for us which is always exciting. Each student has an individual study carrel that you can use to store your books or laptop. In addition, there are several comfortable chairs and a spacious library where some of the second years like to study. There are also picnic tables outside if the weather is nice.

Edmund F. Ball Medical Education Center

Our Center building is only a few years old, and is one of the nicest in the state! The first floor houses a family practice residency program and the residents are helpful and fun. We are on the second floor, with the anatomy lab in the basement. The facilities are some of the best in the state. The first and second years each have a lounge with a refrigerator, microwave, television, and couch. There are also two study rooms, a microbiology lab, a computer lab, and a library/conference room. There’s wireless internet access throughout the entire center, and you’ll have 24 hour access to our floor.


Probably the most unique thing about our center is its block schedule. This means that you will be taking one class at a time for 4-7 weeks, depending on the block. First semester is Histology, Gross Anatomy, and Molecular Biology/Biochemistry. Second semester starts off with Neuroanatomy, followed by Physiology and Immunology/Microbiology. The current second year class was the second to complete an entire year of the block scheduling system and we loved it! Focusing on one class at a time allows you to completely immerse yourself in one subject without having to balance several classes. Furthermore, each final exam is taken right after the end of the course (ranging from 4-7 weeks) which makes it easier to remember what you learned at the beginning of the class.

Most of our exams are taken on the computer (except for shelf exams). This is nice because we get our scores as soon as the exam is over. Every class is different for every person, but I’ll try to give you the basic consensus and some helpful hints for each one.

Where to Buy Books

Locally, you can purchase books at the BSU Bookstore (in the Arts and Journalism building on the Corner of Riverside and McKinley), TIS, or CBX.,,, or are all excellent places to purchase new or used textbooks at cheaper prices. Some second years may wish to sell you their books during the course of the year, or loan them to you for the duration of the class. Ila will mail you textbook information. Not all books are required or necessary, and some classes don’t even have a book to buy.

Places to Study

As previously mentioned, the center is a great place to study. If you are looking to get away to other locations you may want to consider the MTCup in the village, a Starbucks just a few blocks from the center, or the BSU library located at McKinley and Neely on campus. Many of us like to study at our houses/apartments, however, misery loves company and studying in groups certainly helps to pass the time!


Parking at the center is quite easy! There is a large parking lot behind the center to park your cars. On your first day of class you will head across the street to Ball Memorial Hospital and pick up your parking pass which you must display in your windshield at all times. There is also a bike rack if you want to ride to the center.

How to survive your first year classes

Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM)

Although this class is VERY early on Monday mornings (7 a.m.!), it is an enjoyable course and the hospital provides breakfast (which you will get very sick of by the end of the year). The professors, Dr. Routh and Dr. Adrian are wonderful, and they do an excellent job of introducing you to the doctor/patient relationship. However, your experience will be pretty different depending on which one you get. Dr. Adrian is very hands-on and would rather take his students to practice with their stethoscopes or see an interesting patient, while Dr. Routh really emphasizes the readings and likes to talk in depth about various ethical and tough issues. With both of them, you get to wear your white coat and get plenty of patient exposure.

Learning the patient interview is the main goal of this course, as well as observing the various cycles of life. You will also spend time discussing ethical issues in medicine as well as visiting sites in the community. Some of the books for this class are required and you will read from them weekly (it changes every year, and Ila and Kim will print of pages from one of the books). It is extremely important that you do three things to pass this class and stay on good terms with the instructors:

  1. Come to Class!
  2. Be on Time!
  3. Do the readings! (there will be a pop “quiz” sometime during the first semester!).
Histology – Dr. Ganion

Histology is the first block of the fall semester, and “Dr. G” is an excellent professor. He is very detail oriented and you will leave his class EXTREMELY prepared for the histo shelf exam – we’re all pretty sure that he wrote it. Make sure you know every single word of his handouts (no joke). He provides great lecture notes which should be all you need to study for his exams though some preferred to supplement with the textbook.

For the histo lab tests, be sure to study Dr. Gs cd-rom! He will take all of his lab questions directly from these slides. Embryo lasts about three days, also taught by Dr. G. This is the one book (embryo) that you should definitely not purchase; the notes are all you will need. He also posts "practice quizzes" on the histology website which many of us found to be very helpful. Histo is a great introduction to med school, use the free time to spend time with your class and get settled in Muncie, because things will change once it’s over

Anatomy – Dr. Wilkins

This is the second block of the fall semester, and it typically lasts about 7 weeks. Most of your time will be spend down in the lab with your cadaver, but there will also be (mandatory) sessions with clinicians and (very) brief class time with Dr. Wilkins. This is a great class for those of you who are “self-directed” learners. The books are Grant’s Dissector, Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy, Moore’s Essential Clinical Anatomy, and the BRS Anatomy. All of the books are necessary, especially Essential Clinical Anatomy (ECA).

Anatomy is not a particularly difficult subject to learn, however, there is an enormous amount of information and you will be spending many hours identifying things in lab as well as reading ECA outside of class.

Anatomy Lab is an incredible experience, and truly a rite of passage of medical school. Lab can be gross, smelly and uncomfortable, but it is something you are guaranteed to learn from and will never forget. Everyone in our class handled it well and has good memories from the HOURS we spent down there.

Attendance to labs is required and vital to passing the course. Lab practicals are held every other week, and Dr. Wilkins loves finding tricky things in the cadavers to test you on. Every cadaver will be on the exam so make sure that you know them all! You can purchase dissection kits from Ila at the beginning of the semester, and there might be some in the lab to use as well. Lab coats are available and are washed weekly. Set aside some old clothes (scrubs, sweats, old shoes) to wear only in lab (we have lockers to keep them in), and plan to throw them away once it’s over!

Dr. Wilkins’ “lecture” exams come mostly from the ECA book so we would suggest reading every single page unless otherwise specified. The text also contains "blue boxes" with clinical scenarios that help you apply the information that you have learned. He loves to make questions from these boxes so be sure to read them! The BRS is helpful for a quick and concise review of the material. At the end of the class it is nearly impossible to re-read the entire ECA book, therefore many of us studied the BRS and found it helpful for the shelf exam. Grant’s Dissector is a must for learning lab material and studying for exams. Any bold words in the lab book are fair game for the test so make sure you know them all.

Last year each lab group "taught" the other groups about their cadaver and that seemed to work great. Dr. Wilkins is very fair. He has a great sense of humor and is very easy to get along with. He can be fairly disorganized so make sure you keep him on his toes, and ask for direction if you don’t feel like you’re getting it.

Molecular Biology/Biochemistry

The first semester will end with three weeks of Molecular biology with Dr. Fromm (aka “The Fromminator”) before Thanksgiving and three weeks of Biochemistry with Dr. Pederson after Thanksgiving. Both professors are very organized and teach you the material quickly and efficiently. On average, you will only spend a couple of hours in class per day. Their lecture notes are excellent and they will test you directly from these notes.

There is not a text book for molecular (nor will you need one) and whether or not you will use the Biochem book is a matter of personal preference. An undergraduate Biochem textbook would certainly suffice if you still have it. The final exam for this course is a “statewide” exam. This test consists of questions that are put together by various faculty from centers all over the state and is taken on paper. You will be very glad to only have one final exam at the end of the semester instead of three! Some people loved this block, some people hated it – it really depends on the level of undergraduate experience you have with it, and how much you like this kind of material.


This is the first block that you will have during second semester and it lasts for approximately four weeks. Neuro is a class that has been “under construction” over the past few years because of lots of changes in faculty. They have been interviewing new candidates to fill this slot, but we’re not sure who’s going to teach it or which sections they will teach. For us, it was taught by Dr. Kubek from Indianapolis, and included a Neurophysiology section taught by Dr. Bishop. The Neurophysiology tests were at the same time as the Neuroanatomy tests, but the grades translated to our Physiology overall grades. Both classes overlap a fair amount, and all of the information is included on the Shelf.

Dr. Kubek did a good job of teaching the anatomy of the brain and spinal cord, but some lectures were much better than others. The Haines lab book was excellent for studying the various neuro pathways that are essential to surviving the course. The other book is called “Essential Clinical Neuroanatomy.” Reading every chapter in this book (they are short) helps to supplement his notes that may be a bit sparse/confusing at times. Dr. Kubek’s exams were often surprisingly similar to the practice exams, so make sure you always do those.

For the Shelf, be sure to learn everything about spinal cord and brain stem lesions, as well as embryology, the peripheral nervous system and disorders that Dr. Kubek might not teach you about. As I said previously, I can’t guarantee anything for you guys about neuro, but I do know that this is also a Shelf exam for which the BRS was VERY useful.


After you finish Neuroanatomy you will begin what some consider to be the best six weeks of your first year of medical school. Class won’t start before 1pm, and usually doesn’t last more than 3 hours a day. Dr. Bishop follows a power point lecture, but he teaches you instead of just reading off the slides. He repeats important points many times. Coming to class gives you an excellent advantage, as well as reading the book cover to cover, and doing lots of practice problems.

You will be successful in this class if you take the time to truly understand the material rather than memorizing it. This class is all about learning key concepts that you can then apply in various clinical situations. Again, this is a love/hate class, it was many people’s favorite class, while others didn’t enjoy the material as much. Either way, Dr. Bishop really goes out of his way to help his students, and is always available for anything, sometimes at weird times at night! (He’s also VERY chatty outside of class, so you might have to learn to politely cut him off if you need to get your studying done.)


Upon the completion of spring break you will return to school to begin Microbiology and Immunology. The first three weeks you will have Immuno in the morning, taught by Dr. Webb, followed by micro in the afternoon, taught by Dr. Walker (the center Director). Immuno is short and sweet.

Dr. Webb has power point slides that (kind of) go along with the textbook, but not everyone used the book. Dr. Webb is an EXCELLENT lecturer, and most students really benefit from going to class. He is always available outside of class to answer questions and he posts practice quizzes on the Immuno website to help you prepare for exams. At the end of Immuno you will take a statewide exam and then move on to Micro full time.

There is an enormous amount of microbiology to cover so unfortunately there is a lot of class. The great thing about micro, however, is that all of your exams are on Fridays. This basically means that you study like crazy from Monday until Friday morning at 10am but then you essentially have the weekend off.

You don’t have a book for micro, but Dr. Walker’s notes are extensive and detailed. He puts important points in bold and sometimes prepares review sheets. His tests are very detailed and a bit lengthy, but if you stick to the notes you will do fine. Actually going to class is technically required if you have <80% in the class, and Walker does NOT like it if people skip. That being said, a lot of people found that spending that much time in class to essentially have the notes read to them was not worthwhile. You’ll have to go to class and judge for yourself.

Some found the book Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple to be very helpful. It has cute pictures and good mnemonics, which help with the vast amount of information to memorize. The practice quizzes that he provides you with are a great indicator of how prepared you are for his tests. Make sure to complete them at least once before each exam!!! (Sometimes he takes questions directly from them!)

There is also a lab portion to this course taught by Deb Bruner. She is very nice and helpful and does a great job of getting you in and out of lab quickly (ie sometimes only 10 minutes). Be sure to show up for the parasitology labs at the end of the block!!! There will be a lab portion to the parasite exam that is very manageable if you come to class and very difficult if you don’t.

Most of us found that (aside from anatomy) micro is the most time intensive course. It is a bit difficult to muster up that last bit of motivation to study for this final at the very end of your first year (when the weather is nice) but you have to pass this exam to pass the class (and you have to pass the class to pass your first year) so blowing it off is not recommended.

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