Medicine Year 2: Review

Following on from my Year 1 Review, I thought I would delve into the world of what Year 2 Medicine at UCL entails. If you are only going into year 1, stop reading right now. There is no point even thinking about year 2 before you've passed year 1 so just concentrate on year 1 for not.

If you're heading into year 2, congratulations on passing year 1 and welcome to year 2. Straight up, it's even harder. But, the topics are more enjoyable and feel more relevant to your final medical career.

The first module of the year is Movement and Musculoskeletal Biology. With a fast paced introduction to a huge chunk of anatomy, you spend the majority of your first few weeks in the anatomy lab which ends up feeling almost like a second home. With all the limb anatomy covered, it's defintely worth taking advantage of your summer and reading up on anatomy beforehand. I would recommend utilising older years for easy to remember mnemonics to help learn the key anatomy: muscles, nerves and blood supplies.

Other than anatomy, the module has a focus on embryology which actually helps with the understanding of anatomy so compared to first year, I would actually spend the time at the start of the year trying to grasp the key knowledge. Histology and chemistry appear with recap sessions and are taken a little further with more relevant focus'. There is an overall condition theme, that gets tied in frequently, of Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis. I actually really enjoyed it and thought of it as almost a case study, similar to Infection and Defence in first year.

Neuroscience and Behaviour is without a doubt the hardest module. The embryology ties into the anatomy which is very complex and requires a lot of patience to learn. I would thoroughly recommend investing in a skull to help learn the basic bone structure. Definitely spend extra time in the anatomy lab looking at the labelled models.The neuroanatomy leads into neuroscience which I found impossible. It's worth looking at the compiled student notes to find which way of learning actually helps your understanding.

Virus' come into the module a little bit which is a nice familiar topic to break up the masses of unknown. There is also an Multiple Sclerosis case study that is really interesting and worth attending, despite the lack of communication, it is useful to have knowledge of the condition. One thing I will mention is that the two workshop classes that have a lot of practical elements and seem to just be for fun..take notes! They frequently come up in the OCAPE exam, especially the eye examination and two hearing tests.

I think it tends to be the hardest module for everyone across the board and while some find it enjoyable, others don't. Honestly, I was quite disappointed in the teaching because I feel like a lot of the knowledge is dispersed throughout the course in a very disorganised pattern with few links made between lectures. Instead, you have to make your own connections to link the topics required for a full understanding. I think this is defintely a topic you have to do a lot of extra work on. Unfortunately, I spent the majority of my revision on this topic and still didn't understand it in the slightest.

Having a father who worked as a General Practitioner for years, Endocrine Systems and Regulation ended up being a module I was partially familiar with before starting the course. In reality, I think most people who find healthcare interesting and have done some sort of work experience in the area will have somewhat of an awareness for it: diabetes and obesity anyone?

I love, love, LOVE how this module is organised. Pam Houston is definitely the best module lead and the timetable is structured in a very systematic way. Each week takes you though an individual endocrine system where you learn about how it works and the conditions associated. It feels like you are actually getting the full picture because the how links to the physical manifestation we will come to expect and then tied in to the treatment. The key axes were: adrenal, growth hormone, diabetes, reproduction and thyroid. With these, we also had individual histology lectures to understand the cellular basis of each of the individual organs.

I would recommend taking full advantage of the slightly slower paced nature of this module. Utilise all the extra study sessions and answer all the questions provided. I found that because I did this, I became very familiar with the knowledge and so I didn't need to spend as much time revising it before the final summative exams.

To close the year, Development, Genetics and Cancer makes up the final module. Unfortunately, this module is realistically made up of 3 separate topics that only very loosely link together. Development is all about embryology and it recaps a lot of the knowledge covered since day 1 of medical school. It's interesting that they bring it 2 new lecturers to teach the subject, but for those who prefer a different teaching style it may help their understanding.

Genetics and Cancer do in some ways link together. Given that a lot of the new cancer treatment and research has been developed using genetic techniques they do follow on from each other nicely. Beginning with genetics, you get a basic outlook on how the genes are put together and modified which is taught really well. This leads on to the technological side, including modification and even the most common, recent advancement of IVF. Having this as a passion and interest of mine, I really enjoyed learning about the different processes and how they test if the embryo is fertilised. Pregnancy and birth is an obvious next stage and with the links to the endocrine process, it's a good revision session.

Now, I am fascinated by cancer and given that 1 in 2 born after 1960 will have cancer, it's going to become an incredibly important condition. Even more so than it is already. I was really excited to learn about this topic and while the lectures are interesting, it is very difficult to gauge what you need to know. Everything taught is by many different researchers who explain the very up-to-date findings that their individual labs have uncovered. Due to this, very little of knowledge is actually examinable and unfortunately, the lectures to contradict each other frequently. The best advice for these lectures is that you should defintely attend and listen. If you listen to the information provided you will become confident in the general ideas. What you don't need to do is memorise all the individual findings as there are far too many that are not yet proven. The main thing you need to learn with cancer is how it occurs (the cycle of cancer) and the different types of treatments, how they work with examples. This appears in two separate lectures, one being pharmacology and the other a specific cancer lecture.

That brings us nicely to the pharmacology unit. This is a vertical module that runs throughout the year. They do tend to correlate to the subject being taught in the current module which is nice, but often the tutorials are a little later. Revise year 1 pharmacology as it is very common and important and go to the tutorials having read up on the information you will be covering. They only really work when there is group interaction and involvement, otherwise it's just another lecture.

Finally, CPP and one SSC is again a part of the year. This year's SSC  requires an essay and some of the course teachers are quite strict so try to pick one that somewhat interests you otherwise you will be bored to death. Like I said last year, CPP can be tedious and an annoyance but if you go to all the lectures and attend all the sessions, you will not need to revise the knowledge again. Ethics and Law lectures are crucial and the principles learnt do need to be fundamentally known in practice. The biggest topic this year is Mental Health and unfortunately there is a huge section of it towards the end of the year. The high volume at the end all involve neuroscience so it brings in the N+B module which I hated, hence I hated these lectures too. I was left completely confused and felt broken afterwards so I would thoroughly recommend spending the time learning neurology inside out over Christmas. Once you've got that down, you are set.

And that is a summary of what you cover in year 2.

It's a lot of knowledge and it's a packed timetable so just manage your time carefully and enjoy it where possible. I hope that helps with what you will do and I will be writing a final post about 'What I wish I'd Known' in the coming weeks.


  1. Medicine Year 2 students are starting back so it's about time I shared what I learnt and studied in year 2!


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