Many premed students worry about whether they are academically prepared to enter medical school. Sure, they have completed the typical prerequisite coursework, but will any information from those classes truly be useful down the road?
While some topics in premed courses are unlikely to appear again in the usual medical school curriculum, you may want to consider brushing up on four areas before you matriculate as a med student. Mastering these topics now can help you build a strong foundation on which to scaffold new information, and they may even help you prepare for important licensing exams like the United States Medical Licensing Exam, or USMLE, Step 1:
— Glycolysis and the citric acid cycle.
— DNA synthesis and replication.
— Ohm’s law and the Bernoulli and Poiseuille equations.
— Basic genetics and Punnett squares.
Glycolysis and the Citric Acid Cycle
Foundational biochemistry is a frequently tested topic on the USMLE Step 1 exam, and it is a fundamental means by which you can understand other common or “high yield” topics like genetic diseases resulting from alterations of enzymes in biochemical pathways.
Do yourself a favor now and commit the steps of glycolysis and the citric acid, or Krebs, cycle to memory. Know the enzymes involved in each step and which steps are rate-limiting. Test your comprehension by identifying the molecular intermediates that would accumulate if certain enzymes were inhibited in this metabolic pathway.
You do not need to delve into diseases relating to these pathways yet, as those will be covered in your med school courses.
DNA Synthesis and Replication
Understanding the molecular processes by which DNA forms and how cells copy their DNA during replication are great ways to prepare yourself for understanding diseases resulting from a de novo DNA mutation — a DNA mutation that is not present in an individual’s parents — as well as how cancer develops and how some anti-cancer medications work.
Be familiar with the enzymes involved in each step and with what could happen if these enzymes go awry. If you would like to, take things a step further by looking into some basic mutations that allow for the kind of disinhibited DNA and cellular replication that contribute to tumor formation.
Ohm’s Law and the Bernoulli and Poiseuille Equations
You may have heard that physics is a less frequently tested topic for medical students, but in reality physics topics are essential to understanding certain physiological concepts.
Ohm’s law and the Bernoulli and Poiseuille equations are worth your review, as they will greatly aid in understanding cardiovascular function. Basic physics concepts related to pressure, flow and resistance will all be important during medical school.
Basic Genetics and Punnett Squares
By the time you are ready for med school, you will have probably been drawing Punnett squares and thinking about Gregor Mendel and his pea plants since high school. It may surprise you to hear that these basic principles of inheritance are retaught in medical school, though in greater depth.
Take time to review Mendelian genetics, as well as the principles of dominance, recessiveness, codominance, X- and Y-linked traits , and the like. Knowing this information will prepare you to trace inherited diseases down a family pedigree, allowing you to predict who is likely to be affected by a certain disease and what the chances are that the progeny of two given parents will have the disease.
As you sort through these topics, remember that you are simply preparing yourself for medical school. Avoid formal studying for med school courses and licensing exams right now — you will have plenty of time to do that later with more guidance.
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4 Academic Topics Premed Students Should Know for Medical School originally appeared on usnews.com