Physiology for Medical Students
Overview Textbooks and References Ten-year series, OSCEs, Tests
  • Introduction
  • Syllabus
  • Timetable
  • Examination
  • Tips
  • Textbooks
  • Booklist
    Online references
    Links and Directories
  • NUS Physiology Dept
  • Past Year Questions
  • MBBS Essays 88-97 (MS Word)
    Online Quizes
  • King's College MCQs
        [30 MCQs(T/F), Needs Java, Slow loading]
  • Dr Davies' MCQs
        [30 MCQs(T/F)]
  • Physio & Anat Histology
        [Histo pictures, Topical MCQs(5C1)]

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    Category of subject: Preclinical
    Duration of posting: Entire Year 1
    Final examination: End of Year 1 (1st Professional MBBS)
      Physiology is one of the 3 main topics in 1st year medical school (the other 2 being Biochemistry and Anatomy), and is the most clinically relevant subject, especially for physicians(non-surgeons). Physio is also the most logical and easily understandable subject, and needs the least memory space, as opposed to anatomy. Despite this, it is almost impossible to get a distinction, but fairly easy to pass as long as you put some effort into understanding the concepts.
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    Official syllabus available?: No
    (1)Cell membranes
    (2)Nerve and muscles
    (5)Cardiovascular Physio
    (6)Respiratory Physio
    (7)Gastrointestinal Physio
    (8)Renal Physio
    (11)Reproductive Physio
    (13)Neurophysio now in Year 2
    (14)Histology now also tested in Physio
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    Teaching methods:
    Lecture-Tutorial-Problem based learning
    Practical: Lab work, Ward visits
      Once again, I'm sure the timing differs from my day, when the Lecture-Tutorial system made up the bulk of the timetable. Neurophysio has been moved to year 2, together with Neuroanatomy, also after my time. The strength of this department lies in the tutors (eg Dr Hooi S C and Prof Hwang), who are very good at explaining and clarifying what can sometimes be messy and confusing details. If the lectures are now inadequate, consider approaching the relevant tutors for explanation of their "pet" topics.
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    Continual assessments made up 10-25% of our final marks, but will be increased to at least 40%.
    There were only 2 tests - End Semester I, and Middle Semester II, consisting of short questions (Section A type)
    However, problem based learning, etc. will probably contribute a fair amount of marks nowadays.
    Final exam
    Timing: End of Year 1
    Papers: 1 Essay paper only
    - 3 hours
    - Section A : Answer all 6 short questions (15 marks each) (15 mins each)
    - Section B : Answer all 3 long questions (30 marks each) (30 mins each)
    Is now taught in Year 2.
    Is tested at the end of Year 2.
    It consists of Neuroanatomy, Neurophysiology, and Neuropharmacology.
    Please correct/update me here!
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    Primary textbook [Use Notes + (1) or (2)]
    (1)Lecture notes - Variable usefulness, being very good for CVS(Dr Hooi), Renal (Prof Huang)
    (2)Textbook of Medical Physiology (Guyton) - Thick book but easy to read and understand. Too long for revision though.
    (3)Review of Medical Physiology (Ganong) - Detailed text designed for post-grads, so you need a good basic foundation. Popular, but not recommended it unless you're the distinction type.
    Reference text
    (1)J.B. West- The classic reference text (esp Respiration, Renal, Endo & Repro)
    (2)Principles of Physiology (Berne & Levy)- Has great clinical correlates for later years
    Nice-to-have stuff
    - Senior's notes for physio are less well organised, and not as essential as compared to biochem. Selected topics (eg Respi, Renal, Endocrine and Reproduction) may be useful.
    Revision guides & MCQs
    Physio is the one subject where your primary text and the revision one differ. This is because revision texts assume you know the basics, and primary texts are too thick for quick revision.
    (1)N.M.S Physiology - Well structured, popular book.
    (2)Lin Tzeís (senior's) notes - Thin but good, detailed summary, but wonít make sense unless you know your work.
    (3)Ganong (see abv) - if you have a fair amount of time, and used it as your primary text.
    Book review sites - Click this, count to five, then this for Physio book review.
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    Study tips
  • Physio is an understanding subject as opposed to a pure memorising subject, more so than biochem or anat. Make sure you understand the principles involved, and if you donít, ASK!
  • Consolidate all your notes for each topic into the main reference (eg lecture notes/Guyton) for that topic to make revising easier - this is because the references are spread out and different for each topic.
  • Practicals and hospital visits are fun and interesting. Some concepts (but not technical details) taught in practicals may come out for the exams.
    Exam tips
  • Watch your time carefully, though it is less rushed than Biochem.
  • Use general exam tips like Reading the question, planning your answer, writing an introduction and conclusion, use of headings and key words.
  • Even if you don't know the answer, smoke something out from basic principles. That's often enough for a pass, as long as you write logically.
  • Class test marks tend to be low, donít be too upset. The spead is a lot narrower than Anat/Biochem, so failures and distinctions are both less common.
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