How to Study Physiology

how to study physiology

How to Study Physiology-Physiology is one course you will have to confront and pass as a medical student. Past records have revealed how dreadful the course can be with some scary failure rates. So if you are a medical student reading this and you are yet to cross the hurdle of physiology, then you need to read this article to the end.

You will be getting to know how to study physiology effectively and having good grades at the end.

What is Physiology?

Physiology is a branch of biology that deals the study of the function and activities in the human body (and also animals). Physiology explains the different mechanisms taking place in a living organism. It shows how organs and system within the body work, communicate and how they work together for survival.

The human physiology covers the following systems: Circulatory system, Digestive system, Endocrine system, Immune system, Musculoskeletal system, Nervous system, Respiratory system, Reproductive system, Renal/Urinary system and Integumentary system.

How To Study Physiology?

Specific Tips on How to Study Physiology

#1   Use Mnemonics

Mnemonics is what you commit memory as a way of remembering something more technical that it stands for. Physiology involves a lot of terms, functions and processes which you must master. So using mnemonics will really be helpful.

#2   Learn to use your own words

Don’t just lift words or statement from your study materials. Use your own words too. Explain concepts in your own terms, using pictures, charts where applicable. When you do such, the examiner will know that you have an understanding of the course.

#3   Read before the class

It is advisable to study a topic just before the class is being held. This way, you will have advance information on what is to be taught. By the time the lecturer is taking the topic, you will understand it better than if you never read ahead of class.

#4   Participate actively in Class

Don’t just be present in class for lectures, you must actively participate in the class. Make notes, ask questions, answer questions. As you do all this, you will begin to have better understanding of the course.

#5   Go to study after class

It is good to study immediately after a class on the topic just concluded. This will help you understand the topic better.

#6   You must know the style of your lecturers/professors

Every of your lecturer has their own style which varies from one to another. Some will provide you lecture notes ahead of class while some won’t give you the notes until they complete the scheme of work for the semester. Some would not give any note at all, they will just explain the topics and request that you go prepare the notes yourself.

Some professors will divide the class into groups and share the topics among the groups. Each group will present each topic in a seminar that will be presided on by the professor.

For you to make a headway in the course, you should ask your seniors the style of the lecturer-in-charge , what is expected of you as a student of physiology, etc. All this enquiry should be done at the beginning of the semester

#7   Gather enough learning materials

For you to have outstanding performance in physiology, you should gather as much learning resources as you can find. Feel free to use textbooks, reading materials, handouts and lab materials that has been made available by your lecturers. You can get past questions from your seniors and additional materials online.

#8   Understand, instead of cramming!

Cramming won’t do you much good. Most likely after exams, you will have forgotten most of what you crammed. But those aspects that you understood will still be stuck to your brain. Understand the theories, processes, functions. Yes, you may need to memorize some stuffs, but try to understand them first before memorizing.

#9   Record your Lectures

If you are allowed to do an audio record lectures, please do record. The truth is that you cannot catch up with everything your lecturer mentioned by listening just once. You have to listen a number of times for you to get all that has been said.

#10   Study diligently

You must study actively and diligently. Study in a place of minimum or no distractions. Always take a bottle of water along to your place of study so as to stay hydrated. Some of the vital materials you should take to your study include: your class notes, hand-outs, practice questions and other relevant materials.

General Tips on How to Study Physiology

#11   Set goals for yourself

As a student of physiology, you must set clear goals for yourself. You must know what you want to achieve out of the course of physiology. What kind of grade do you desire?

#12   Create a suitable and conducive learning environment for yourself

You need a good learning environment if you will succeed in the subject of physiology. Remove every form of distractions and stay focused.

#13   Discover your learning style and stick to it

Everybody has a learning style, you must discover yours and stick to it. For instance, some students easily comprehend what the lecturer teaches in class the first time, while some will need to sit back after the class to go through their notes to be able to comprehend what was taught. Some other students will need their fellow students to put them through the topic before comprehending while some will still need to go through some textbooks in the library.

Just know your learning style and stick to it, don’t copy others.

#14   Be part of a study group

You cannot learn everything by yourself. When you are in a study group, you learn more, difficult problems are solved and you get motivated by others. Just ensure you find the right company.

#15   Have a scheme of work/ syllabus

You should have a scheme of work/syllabus. Scheme of work usually contains the list of topics that students are expected to cover for the semester. Let the scheme of work guide you when studying.

#16   Practice

Take time out to practice using mnemonics, flashcards, practice questions. Test yourself to know how well you have assimilated what you read.

#17   Don’t neglect your health

While you study hard to make good grades in physiology, you must not forget that you are a human being not a robot. You need to take care of yourself. Eat healthy foods. Get enough sleep. If you are having any symptoms in your body, don’t keep it to yourself, see a doctor immediately.

How not to Study Physiology

The following ways are the wrong methods to employ in the study of physiology:

#1   Procrastination

This is one of the worst thing you can do to yourself as a student of physiology or any other course. There is really a lot to be done by you as a physiology student, ranging from watching lectures, drawing, asking your lecturers questions, treating exam practice questions, etc. Procrastination would imply that so many things would be left undone, and the only thing that will be imminent by then is failure.

#2   Cramming

Cramming is only valid and useful in the pre-med years. By the time you move on to higher levels, you would need more than ability to cram to succeed. This is because the questions your professors will be setting in exams will be more of application questions than definitions. So in physiology, don’t just cram, you must understand what you are reading.

#3   Having unrealistic goal

Don’t set unrealistic goals. In setting goals, you must know your current level and then begin to rise from there. Also when you set goals, there must be plan in place to achieve those goals. A goal without a proper planning on how to achieve such is an unrealistic goal.

What work can I do After I Study Physiology?

After study of physiology, you can proceed to graduate school to become a medical doctor, nurse, dentist or physical therapist. You can also work with the undergraduate degree of physiology in the following capacities:

  • Research assistant
  • Surgical technician
  • Lab technician
  • Medical Assistant
  • Clinical trials coordinator
  • Medical Writer
  • Medical Sales Representative

You can also pursue a doctorate degree in physiology after which you can get a job to head the physiology research program in a hospital, university or government institution

Last Words

I believe with what you have read in this article on how to study physiology, your fears are now gone. You can now go take that mountain of physiology and conquer it.

I wish you all the best!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is involved in physiology?

Physiology is simply the study of how the human body works. It explains the chemistry and physics behind the basic functioning of the body (from cellular level up to system level). With physiology, you get to understand what happens in the human body when in a healthy state and a sick state.

Why study physiology?

Physiology is the foundation on which we build our knowledge on what life is, treatment of disease and how to cope with stress. 

Can Physiologists be called doctors?

No. Even though physiology is somehow related to medicine, they are not doctors. They cannot obtain medical license or work in hospitals as medical practitioners.

What is the difference between Anatomy and Physiology?

Anatomy is simply the study of the body’s structures while Physiology is the study of how the body structures works and functions.


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