Monday 12 October 2015

Kya Kya Parhoon?: The dilemma of a first year MBBS student !

- Abhilash Patowary.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”. 
~Eleanor Roosevelt 

It was the 19th of September, 2015. Gauhati Medical College was celebrating its 55th anniversary. The college auditorium once again lit up: the intricately detailed Rangoli at the entrance, the beautiful flowers that adorned the dais on the stage, the colourful banners, volunteers running helter-skelter, students dressed in numerous attires— the entire auditorium had come to life. I, along with my batch-mates, sat down at one end. The event unfolded with the college anthem and then, various motivational speeches by the dignitaries followed. As I sat there listening to one of the speeches, quite unconsciously perhaps, I went down the memory lane, as flickers of nostalgia clouded my mind. I wasn’t transferred to some imaginary land or so!! It was the same college auditorium, the same date, the same occasion- what was different, was that it was 2014, a year back. I was a first year MBBS student, who had just joined the college. For me (like most others), getting admission into a medical college, and more so, into such an esteemed one, was no less than a dream coming true. Medicine had been my passion since my childhood: I recall my mother telling me how I used to run about in the hospital or the doctor’s clinic and make futile attempts at pronouncing the names of medicines on the doctor’s table, since I was 10! Anyways, I particularly remember the prize distribution ceremony of the toppers of GMCH on our Foundation Day. I had tried hard to get a glimpse of the topper of the First Professional MBBS examination of our previous batch. It would be dishonest if I don’t admit here, that, at that very moment, when her (the topper) name was announced, I felt a gush of adrenaline running down my veins, I was pumped up with inspiration, I felt a need to prove something: a dream of standing there at her (the topper) position. The speech ended and so did my little trip down the time-machine!!It was 2015 again! It was time for felicitating the toppers from our batch. Well, it actually gets quite dramatic here!! Never in my wildest yearnings had it occurred to me that my dream would come true! Yes, I was the topper. It was actually quite emotional for me: a truckload of emotions blended together in my little head as I smiled, feeling the medal across my neck and holding the certificate. (Apparently, my friends and seniors tell me, I was so overwhelmed with joy, I didn’t even pose for an appropriate photograph!J) 

After, all that trumpet-blowing about myself, let’s come to the point!!! As my friend Nabaraj (one of the creators of this wonderful site!) tells me, I’m to offer tips for first year MBBS students. Let’s make one thing very clear: MBBS is tough, it’s gruelling, it’s demanding, it’s stressful, it’s interesting, it’s fun, it’s unfair at times (what isn’t?) – it’s a roller-coaster ride with its twists and turns, and ups and downs. As the age-old adage goes, “Study and study makes Jack a dull boy”, it’s important that you have fun, enjoy college life, BUT don’t deviate from your goal one bit! Every time you do that, you’ll have to bear the consequences. The course is tough, lengthy, but with the right books, proper notes, good advice from seniors and teachers, and a bit of planning, the journey isn’t that tiring! “Don’t be serious, be sincere”

The first-year MBBS course comprises 3 non-clinical subjects: 
I shall briefly elaborate about each of these. I do not consider myself qualified enough to comment on various books by various authors, and hence will restrict myself to the books I have used only. 

It basically deals with the intricacies of, perhaps, the best example of God’s craftsmanship- the human body. The morphology, structural constituents, the complex circuitry of nerves and blood vessels, the microscopic details, the in-depth study of bones and the genetics of the human body- Anatomy offers the complete package! 
For Gross Anatomy, the all time student favourite (not-so-teacher-favourite though!), B.D. Chaurasia’s books on Human Anatomy (3 volumes) are enough for having a good overview of topics, and score well in exams. However, it is my personal opinion that you also buy a student’s edition of Gray’s Anatomy in order to have clearer concepts and a thorough understanding. The illustrations, in particular, are wonderful in this book. As a teacher recommendation, I also had 3 volumes of Cunningham’s Manual of Practical Anatomy: they are extremely helpful in dissection and offer a clear idea of certain topics (especially the brain), although I didn’t use the book much! 
For microanatomy, I solely used Inder Bir Singh’s Textbook of Histology. De Fiore’s is also quite a standard textbook, although the former is sufficient for scoring well in 
exams. The latter may be consulted for discrepancies in I.B. Singh, if the reader feels the need. 
For Osteology, Poddar’s Textbook of Osteology was my one-stop destination: simple, precise and not filled with unnecessary details. For Embryology, I used Langman’s Medical Embryology as well as Inder Bir Singh’s Textbook of Embryology: a proper balance between the two is necessary in order to clearly grasp the subject. I personally recommend Langman for understanding the basics of General Embryology and then you may use any of the two for the systemic parts. Inder Bir Singh is good for scoring marks in theory, although certain externals prefer only Langmann. Bottom line : If both of the two contradict at a certain point, Langmann wins! As for Genetics, I personally did not follow any book in particular and studied the frequently asked questions from the last 20 years question paper. But, if you really want to read Genetics, you could go through Emery’s Elements of Medical Genetics

My personal favourite, the name says it all! Physios- nature; logos- discourse: Physiology deals with the study of the nature of the body: how it functions. While Anatomy tells you WHAT, Physiology tells you WHY and HOW! For Physiology, I precisely followed two books: Textbook of Medical Physiology by Guyton and Hall, and  (2 volumes). While the former clears your concepts regarding various life-processes and engages you to explore, decipher and persuades you go deeper into the matter, the latter will help you score high in exams. A.K. Jain offers a vast majority of topics packed in simple, precise language into 2 volumes. Both these books should suffice for you to both enjoy the subject, as well as, come out with flying colours in exams! 

Finally, biochemistry (as the name suggests) deals with the complex chemistry operating in various parts of the human body. A thorough concept of chemistry and biology at the Higher Secondary Level serves to lay a firm foundation for Biochemistry in your first year of MBBS. I followed Vasudevan’s textbook of Biochemistry as my main book, although many of my classmates preferred the one by Satyanarayana over the former. You may follow either, although the former is my personal recommendation. Also, Harper’s Illustrated Biochemistry was the standard textbook I followed for the subject: this is important for having clearer concepts and improvising on your answers. Moreover, Harper’s is a must and the best for Genetics as far as I’m concerned. 

Furthermore, it is extremely essential that you go through previous 20 years papers to have an idea about the type of questions asked. 

I have kept things as precise as possible. Hopefully this will help you, even if the tiniest bit, to move forward, to get some direction, and conquer new heights! Who knows next year you might be writing your own version of “tips for 1st year MBBS students”, who knows you might be the one with the medal around your neck, who knows what the future has in store...On that positive note, I shall sign off... I wish you all the very best for your endeavours J J Cheers!! 

~Abhilash Patowary 
MBBS, 3rd Semester 
Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) 

*The author is the topper of 1st MBBS Professional (2014-2015) with honours in all the three subjects.

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