Thomas Jefferson UniversitySidney Kimmel Medical College

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Guide to the First Year


First of all, Congratulations! Welcome to Sidney Kimmel Medical College!

The following is a guide to the first year courses and some tips on approaching these classes. Studying in medical College is different for each individual and we encourage you each to learn what works for you. The tips in this guide are things that have worked for us. Please remember that free tutoring is available through Jefferson's AOA Chapter, and we encourage you to contact us with any questions or concerns at

Jefferson's first year curriculum is based on a block schedule. This means you can concentrate all of your studying on one course at a time-this is a very good thing. The year starts with three months of Anatomy, then three months of Molecular and Chemical Basis of Medicine, then The Systems (Physiology and Microanatomy), and finally Neuroanatomy. Interspersed throughout those courses will be Introduction to Clinical Medicine which is the class that will teach you how to be a doctor.

General Advice

  • Relax. Sleep. Eat well. Exercise. Get involved in other activities. Get to know your classmates.
  • Now that you're a medical student, your actions are a reflection on our College and our profession. Please take this responsibility seriously and always be honest and professional.
  • You can learn in class, at home, in study groups, from books, from lecture recordings, from models, by doing questions, and by making study guides. Learning in medical College is very different than learning in college. Just because a certain style worked for you in college does not mean it will work for you in medical College! Try different ways of studying and see what works for you.
  • Students in the medical college traditionally help each other out by posting study materials and resources on the discussion boards. We hope you carry on this tradition.
  • Do not feel obligated to go to class. If you don't learn in class, you don't have to go (unless it is required). If you can be disciplined enough to wake up early and study all day, that's fine. All lectures are recorded and can be accessed online. Remember that the system isn't perfect though and things occasionally don't get recorded. If you do learn in class and are the type of person who needs to ask questions during lecture, then go.
  • Do not feel obligated to buy every required text. Some of them are required because they're the best books, but this is not always the case. For most classes during the first year, the syllabus you're provided with should be sufficient. Use the syllabus and lectures to guide your studying. If you feel you need material to supplement your learning, you can also use the copies in the library for the first week or two to see what is best without buying them as the bookstore often has a no return policy on review books.
  • You can't learn everything. It is not possible to master every intricacy of human anatomy or biochemistry in three months. Don't get hung up on small points. Learn as much as you can in the time you have allotted to learn a section of material.
  • It is also impossible to rewrite or make note cards of all of the information you are responsible for, so leave the flashcards for topics you are really struggling to memorize.
  • Of course you need to get good grades and pass medical College, but don't forget that the primary goal is to learn. Your patients won't care that you got honors in every class if you can't diagnose and treat their problems! Do not cram for exams and then forget what you learned!
  • Go to review sessions.
  • Pre-read on the topics that will be taught each day. You don't need to memorize everything, but having a general impression of what is going on before you hear it from a lecturer will save you time in the long run.
  • Try not to get behind! It can be very difficult to catch up when you have missed just a couple of days of lectures. Most of the material taught builds on understanding previous topics. Studying a little every day goes a long way.
  • Never believe the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years when they say a test or block is easy. If it was easy, that's because that student was well prepared.