No matter where you are studying, if you are at a medical school – neurology will definitely be a part of your curriculum. All around the world, aspiring medical students need to learn about the anatomy, physiology, pathology, and pharmacology of the nervous system. This part of the course is usually before the clinical segment, as you require a good knowledge of neurology before you will be allowed to attend clinical scenarios. Even in your later years of medical school, you will learn about the diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases during the clinical assignments. However, studying neurology can prove difficult – and often does, as students very frequently have problems with this subject. Let us share a few tips and help you with studying!
Why study neurology?
Before we answer the question “how?”, let us first answer “why?”. Even if neurology is not your specialty of choice, you will undoubtedly encounter patients with various neurological problems. To help those patients, you will need to know at least some basics about the evaluation and management of the nervous system. Your patients may, even unknowingly, come to you with various diseases involving the central and peripheral nervous systems. Even if you will not be the one that treats them, your evaluation will help them find a proper practitioner that will solve their problems.
Neurology can also be a very important field for aspiring psychiatrists, as the two disciplines often overlap. Neuropsychiatry, an even more specific branch of medicine, deals with mental disorders that stem from the diseases of the nervous system. Neurology is also closely tied to psychology, neuropsychology, and behavioral neurology.
The pre-clinical years
While you probably won’t have many classes devoted to neurology during your pre-clinical years, the amount of knowledge you will have to memorize can be quite stunning. Instead of taking neurology for granted, or treating as a non-important subject, apply yourself fully to studying it and make most of the classes. The sooner you start, the better – creating a solid foundation in neurology is extremely important. Similarly to mathematics, you cannot grasp the more complex notions and concepts without a good knowledge of the basics. Study earnestly the pathways and functions of the nervous system – this will make studying diseases and disorders much easier later on.
One of the best ways to get some practical knowledge before the clinical portion of your education is to read clinical vignettes – this will allow you to witness patients and their cases in detail, giving you valuable information on pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatments of many nervous system diseases. To make this task easier, you can find a group of students who share an interest in neurology. Split tasks among yourselves and let every member of the group prepare something for each meeting – this way, you won’t be overloaded with responsibility, and every one of you may contribute something worthwhile.
Find a SIGN
A SIGN, otherwise known as a Student Interest Group In Neurology, is an unofficial organization run by students at medical schools to collect and share news and information regarding neurology. With a SIGN, you can easily get involved with neurology-related activities even before your clinical portion of the school. If you school does not have a SIGN, gather some of your friends who are also interested in neurology and found one!
If a SIGN is not for you, you can alternatively try to find a mentor. Look among the neurology faculty members, either clinical or research, and they may be happy to give you advice and guide you through the subject of neurology. When choosing a mentor, make sure to look for someone you can feel comfortable with and who shares your interests – this way, you will be able to communicate much more efficiently. Who knows, maybe you will even find your first future colleague that way?
A great way to study neurology is to frequently test yourself – you can do that easily with QUPI! QUPI is an extensive database of medical questions, consisting of over 10,000 practice questions for a wide range of medical specialties. With QUPI, you can create your own customizable tests, which can cover a specific range of material – including neurology!