First Year MBBS experience sarath rs , sashmi sashidharan, shiv gopal , AIIMS BHOPAL subcentre visit during Community and Family Medicine [CFM] postings.Photo clicked by Dr. Abhijith Pakhare

25 July 2013. Historians did not mark anything significant in their record books about this day as nothing special happened on this day, according to them. That day just like any other day, holy Ganga donated tens of billions of liters of water to the sea. The same would have been the case with me also, but fortunately, I saw a post by one of my friends on Facebook, because of which I came to know that my first year MBBS exam results were out. It took just seconds to open a new tab in Google Chrome and open the website and enter my roll number. But life is not as simple as we think. My net setter stopped working. Adrenaline and all other stress hormones had a nice time inside my body. After half an hour, I got my internet connection back. Again the same steps i.e. open Google chrome and enter the roll number. A white sheet with black letters appeared on the computer. 70% marks and passed all subjects. My mother came to me with a cup of tea and asked why I was laughing. Even if I explained well, she wouldn’t be able to appreciate the depth of relief that I was experiencing. So I just said I got the ticket to enter second year classes. The burden of household work forced her to leave the scene without asking further questions. My experience would be helpful for first year MBBS students; as someone rightly said, when you plan to take a path about which you don’t have a good idea, do ask about the footprints of the adventurers who went through that path before you proceed. So let me share my first year MBBS experiences with you.

Anatomy : The most difficult subject in first year MBBS

Before reaching the college itself, I had an impression that anatomy would be the most difficult subject to deal with and first year MBBS syllabus would be very difficult. Later it was proved true. The initial days didn’t trouble me much as the portions were simple (general anatomy and physiology). Sleepless nights and nightmares started with the commencement of the upper limb part completion test. I thought only bones and attachments would be asked in the theory examinations. No seniors were there to advise me. I still remember that evening when its answer sheets were distributed. I got only 12.5 out of 40. I couldn’t even score 50%. The physiology department conducted one open book examination out of 50 marks.  Albeit having an open book in front of me, I couldn’t score 50% marks in that also. Later I improved bit by bit and performed fairly well in the final exams.

Our dissection started after a small delay as our cadavers reached late. I was a little apprehensive when I reached the dissection hall for the first time. The smell of formalin was eliciting nausea. One of my friends fell down because of that pungent smell. He later wrote the article “Cadaveric Nightmare”. But later, I understood that a cadaver’s smell is better than some human beings’ smell. The mistakes that I made in gross anatomy were so funny. I gave so much importance to cutaneous nerve supply because it came in each chapter’s beginning pages. Neither the teachers nor the god himself gave me any idea about the examination pattern. What to study and what to be skipped???? Always this was in front of my mind. Later I realized that cutaneous supply is just 10% important as far as examinations are concerned. Nerve supply, actions, and clinical applications of large, prominent muscles are very important, like Pectoralis Major, Sternocleidomastoid, and Trapezius. I observed my teachers repeatedly asking certain clinical terms. Those clinical terms are well explained in the BD Chaurasia textbook of gross anatomy and the Vishram Singh textbook of gross anatomy. One of my teachers told me without Cunningham, anatomy is incomplete. Later I realized that advice is valid for a PG student rather than UG. For an undergraduate, B D Chaurasia or Vishram Singh is sufficient. Certain diagrams in these textbooks are weird. For diagrams, I used Gray’s Anatomy Student’s version. If you want to read Cunningham, well and good. But don’t get disheartened if you are not able to follow it. Attending the dissection classes is very important. That will give you a fair idea about the total anatomy. But you cannot see all the structures that have been described in your textbook. That requires time and a magnificent dissector. So it will be good if you collect dissection videos of Auckland or any other. The video of the upper limb itself costs around 3000 INR. Don’t worry. It is available on YouTube.

I still consider histology a boring subject. The reason for this aversion is the headache that I felt while observing slides under a microscope for a long time. But you should practice diagrams by drawing because a diagram will be asked to draw and explain in the final exam. I feel Di Fiore is the best textbook to study histology for an undergraduate. But to build good theoretical knowledge about microanatomy InderBir Singh’s textbook of histology is good. For osteology no need to purchase a separate textbook as it is well given in the gross anatomy textbook. Do give more importance to those bones which are used to identify the sex of a person. Holding the bone in an anatomical position and its attachments are very important. Try to learn the ligaments attached to each bone. Don’t forget to learn the relation between nerve and bone, if any, because injury to the bone at that site can cause damage to that nerve, ultimately leading to muscle paralysis (ex. Radial nerve in the spiral groove). Ossification is not that important, but still, ossifications of certain bones are the favorite questions of professors, especially those ossifications which can give a clue regarding age. Those who are more interested in osteology can purchase IB Singh’s textbook of osteology.

Embryology is interesting. If you learn it well, then you will find it easy to understand the gross anatomy also, as both are closely linked. Models are very useful in understanding embryology. Take help from teachers to understand certain portions like folding and formation of the peritoneal cavity. IB Singh’s textbook of embryology is sufficient for an undergraduate. Lanngman is also good. Radiology also comes under anatomy. There is no need to go in-depth because you will also deal with the same in the coming years. Just learn to tell whether the given x-ray is a P-A view x-ray or an A-P view and some more basic things. Surface marking needs practice. Group study is helpful here. Practice those questions given on a friend’s body toward the end of the gross textbook.

Without diagrams, anatomy answers won’t be complete. Don’t waste time by drawing diagrams for 2-mark questions, but do remember to draw diagrams from 3-mark questions onwards. Some teachers consider the size of the answer also. So elaborate on your answer and ask for a discussion of the questions after each exam. That will make you understand how to write an answer. Don’t forget to write clinical applications for each long answer question which can fetch more marks.

Physiology: How it carries on to second year MBBS

Physiology is very interesting. Without understanding physiology concepts properly, it is almost impossible to learn second year MBBS subjects like Pharmacology and Pathology. Immunity and respiratory physiology were my favorite topics. The only problem that I faced in physiology was everything for an undergraduate was not given in one textbook. Endocrinology was well given in Gannong, but for respiratory physiology and immunity, Guyton was better. The style of illustration in Gannong is not student-friendly but rather teacher friendly. Guyton is one of the best textbooks I have ever seen. So simple that even a kid can understand it. Students may face little problems in understanding the complementary system of immunity chapter. But don’t get disheartened. The same will become clear when you sit for the microbiology chapter. In medicine, everything will get repeated again and again. Immunity is very important as it is one of the branches in which many researchers are going; if you search more, you can see that so many Nobel laureates did their research in immunity. Best and Taylor, even though is a PG book, is good for UG, also. Understand the physiology of glands well because the number of patients coming to the hospital with hormonal problems is huge, especially thyroid and Insulin. Play with the BP apparatus, spirometer, ECG instrument, and other instruments of the physiology lab and try to become an expert. After all, medicine is not a theoretical profession. You need skills and should know how to deal with these instruments. Those skills will come only with practice and experience. The first time when I used a stethoscope, I couldn’t even get heart sounds (obviously, I didn’t get lung sounds also). Give more importance otherwise equal to physiology practical against the theory.

Biochemistry: My favorite subject in first year MBBS

Biochemistry was my favorite subject out of the three. For me, the molecular basis of diseases was the most interesting thing to learn. Do give more importance to those hormones and metabolic pathways which you would encounter more in clinics, like Insulin, Gout, Glycolysis, etc. Understanding the molecular basis will help you a lot to understand the disease and to become a good clinician. Many hereditary diseases that you study in biochemistry will be repeated in pathology next year. I used Harper and Vasudevan during my first year of biochemistry. Both are good books, and I rate Harper ahead of Vasudevan. Cholesterol synthesis pathway, LDL, and HDL metabolism are very important, especially in this era of atherosclerosis and other coronary artery diseases.

Since the time is short and the syllabus is vast, the best way to understand each subject is by paying maximum attention to lectures. This will help to build an image of the important topics and decrease the time needed to spend on each topic when you revise it. But life is not very simple. For me, it was the most difficult thing. Even if you can’t understand some topics or concepts, don’t get disheartened because you have plenty of time to understand it. Group study is an effective tool. You may think it is a waste of time because group studies usually end up in group talks. But believe me, you will remember more of those sentences and facts which your friend taught you during the group study time while you are in the exam hall. Second-year medical studies are much more interesting, courtesy of early clinical exposure. Seniors will be a great helping hand, especially in a medical college. Never hesitate to take help from them because their advice can sometimes be more useful than your teachers’ advice.

Before concluding, I would like to tell the first year MBBS students one more thing. Don’t forget to enjoy your life. Don’t hesitate to bunk a class once a week to watch a movie, but don’t miss a practical class.

My email:

My website:

Similar Posts


  1. complete list of medical
    complete list of medical textbooks for m.b.b.s compiled by m. a. qureshi

    1 clinically oriented anatomy by keith l moore
    2 atlas of human anatomy by netter
    3 grant’s dissector by sauerland lippincott william n wilkins
    4 clinically oriented embryology keith l moore persaud
    5 langman;s medical embryology t w sadler
    6 basic histology luiz carlos
    7 color atlas of histology by garter lp
    8 wheater’s functional histology by young b
    9 clinical neuroanatomy by goldborg m d
    10 neuroanatomy an atlas of structures sections n systems
    11 barr’s the human nervous system by kiernan
    12 medical physiology by gyton n hall
    13 review of medical physiology william f ganong
    14 medical physiology by boron n boulpaep
    15 harpers illustrated biochemistry by victor w rodwell
    16 principles of medical biochemistry by meisenberg
    17 goodman n gillman’s the pharmacological basis of therapeutics
    18 basic n clinical pharmacology by katzung
    19 pathological basis of disease by robbins
    20 pathology by alan stevens
    21 cmdt current medical diagnosis n treatments by stephen
    22 davidson’s principles n practice of medicine
    23 surgery scientific principles n practice by lazar j greenfield
    24 essential otolaryngology head n neck surgery
    25 basic ophthalmology a brad ford md
    26 obstetrics n gynaecology by charles rb beckmarn
    27 medical microbiology by mims
    28 lippincotts illustrated reviews microbiology by william
    29 medical genetics by jorde l b
    30 kaplan + sadock’s synopsis of psychiatry
    31 behavioral sciences n healthcare by sahler oj
    32 immunology for medical students by nairn n helbert
    33 study guide to epidemiology n biostatistics by mortom
    34 quick n accurate 12 lead ecg interpretation by davis
    35 bate’s guide to physical exam n history taking by bickley

  2. Really nice……I could
    Really nice……I could easily relate to everything…my M.B.B.S 1st prof is about to end….exams just over….
    I read your article previously also but this time wanted to comment medical college life is really too fascinating.
    Pre selection fantasies….we are so very happy gettung selected in PMTs that it feels like our life would really of that of prince….but the first time seniors scold you for disrespecting you.!!!
    Though its not ragging still gets difficult to manage …but later on you start feeling nice.
    When whole of your seniors are busy studying for exam you are asked to bring milk choclates and every kind of stuff….and later on you yourself feel like going out!!
    Anatomy is something which we had to study whole of the year…
    Freshers party….college fest…..DH tables…..everything is one in its kind….
    Group outings… crushes on seniors and batchmatea..late night snacks….going to marriages without invitation…..everything is just unique.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *