College Class Review: Pathophysiology

Hello, everyone! Happy Tuesday once again! Once again it has been quite some time. I spent the second half of the spring semester dealing with a heavy workload, burnout, and personal issues, so I didn’t have time for this blog in the midst of all of that. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this past semester, it’s that blogging can be very difficult to manage at the same time as school year responsibilities. I’ve missed blogging on here so be sure I’ll be posting more regularly now and make plans to continue that schedule into the fall.

You may think you don’t care for a subject, but if you haven’t ever studied it before, you don’t really know.

The nice thing about the semester being over (besides enjoying my hometown and having a little more free time before my summer job and classes start) is that I can now share my full experiences with the dietetics classes I took! At the start of the semester, I thought it would be a stressful four months, but I knew for sure (or so I thought) that I would not enjoy pathophysiology. At my school, Dietetics students have to take A&P I and II plus Microbiology before they’re able to take Patho. I did well in those classes, yet I still dreaded Patho. I’d heard stories from friends in our nursing program–as the makeup of the class is mostly Pre-Nursing majors–rant about the pages of notes to review for the tests, the level of detail required, and worst of all, the comprehensive final. Also, before taking this class, I’ll admit I didn’t think I was interested in the disease side of physiology.

My thoughts on the class were much different, however, after just the first session. The professor took her time explaining the material in an clear, uncomplicated manner. More surprising to me, I found the material interesting! You may think you don’t care for a subject, but if you haven’t ever studied it before, you don’t really know.

Ultimately, the hardest part of the class wasn’t the material we studied, but the sheer amount of it. The class met once a week (with no lab, thankfully!) and in order to keep up with the professor, I found I needed to review the material before and after class to better understand it. For me, this meant skimming the textbook along with the notes pre-made by our professors, but for you this could be watching videos over what you cover in class, talking it out with a friend, or making simple notes of your own. It’s also important to learn the material well the first time so you can easily know or understand later, whether for a final or for nutrition classes like Medical Nutrition Therapy that build on it.

Something I discovered while taking this class was that I had to adapt my study habits to the class. For most classes, I could get away with making Quizlets and after reviewing those before the test, do fine. But because of the sheer volume of material that we covered in Patho each week, I barely had time to make a Quizlet, let alone review it. Instead, I found that reviewing my notes, making connections, and understanding processes helped so much more than a Quizlet. The diseases we covered in class often have stages or multiple cause/effect situations. When I took the time to walk myself through the material, I did much better seeing the big picture compared to the fragments I might gather from a Quizlet.

If you give Patho the time and attention it deserves, your hard work will pay off!

Something else I picked up from a friend who took the class the semester before is that if problems have too many overlapping manifestations (looking at you, electrolyte imbalances…), focus especially on learning the key differences. Often, a disease might have one key cause or symptom that uniquely identifies it. Don’t make it the only thing you learn, but use it to recognize diseases on tests.

Finally, if you’ve never had a study friend, now might be the time to make one! I had a friend who was taking Patho too, but we didn’t really start studying together until the next-to-last test. She helped me really understand what we learned! A study partner can give you insights on diseases, share mnemonics they’ve made to remember symptoms, and divide and conquer the work if you’re making charts or teaching each other the material.

If I could summarize my advise for Pathophysiology in one sentence, it would be this: be flexible. You might find that you have to alter the amount of time you thought you needed to study or even the ways in which you study. But if you give Patho the time and attention it deserves, your hard work will pay off!

Have you taken Pathophysiology or are you about to? How do you feel about the class?

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