Man is incurably curious. For such a creature in an environment not created by him, he seeks an understanding of things around him to know what they are and how they can be a means to an end for him. This has led to the discovery of things like gravity, electromagnetism, and many other things, which are the bedrock of our current civilization.

Out of this curiosity in man is the field of Physiology birthed out. Physiology comes from the ancient Greek φύσις(phúsis), meaning ‘nature/origin’ and -λογία (-logía) meaning ‘study of.’ In short, Physiology is the scientific study of functions and mechanisms in a living system. As a sub-discipline of biology, physiology focuses on how organisms, organ systems, individual organs, cells, and biomolecules carry out the chemical and physical functions in a living system. In short, Physiology studies the mechanism by which systems carry out their functions.

The purpose of this article is to introduce you to Human Physiology, especially for medical students, and how to excel in it. Please stick with me as I take you on this fantastic tour.

Physiology is an exciting course. It is be divided into at least 11 parts:
– Cell Physiology
– Nerve and Muscle Physiology
– Heart Physiology
– Circulatory Physiology
– Renal Physiology
– Blood Physiology
– Respiratory Physiology
– Physiology of the Nervous System
This includes Sensory Physiology, Physiology of Special Senses, Motor and integrative neurophysiology.
– Gastrointestinal Physiology
-Physiology of Metabolism
-Endocrine and Reproductive Physiology.

One thing you have to know about physiology is that it is pretty easy if you put your mind to it. It is one of the bedrocks of Medicine, so knowledge of it is indispensable. You should also note that Physiology is better understood when you study it from a pathological side, relating it to the diseases that can result from a particular physiological mechanism.

Let me give an example most can relate to. We know that the body consists of many nutrients and minerals, and each of the substances in these classes has its function. There is an average amount of these substances, take, for example, Sodium, that has to be in the blood at a particular time. Physiology explains how sodium is regulated and the effect of low and high sodium levels in the blood.

This means we can always apply logic to physiology. If this happens to this, then that will happen. Also, all aspects of physiology that’ll be treated during your preclinical are interrelated. For example, cell physiology is fundamental in understanding other aspects of physiology. Also, endocrine physiology, that is, the knowledge of hormones and their effects, will help understand many things going on in the body. The fact that all these things are interrelated is one of the things that make physiology very interesting.

Now let’s discuss how to study this beautiful course.

How to Study Physiology: A Guide for Beginners

Physiology is an exciting course. But we need to know how to study it the right way, especially to understand and pass our examinations. So how do you study physiology?

1. Mental Preparation

The fact that concepts in physiology are interrelated calls for mental preparedness. It calls for you to have a clear mind to understand what you’re reading and to be able to relate it to other concepts later on. So before reading for physiology, you need to get a free and conducive environment. Get rid of all distractions, your phone especially.

2. Prepare Your Mind Understand. Don’t  Cram

You must be wondering, “Why is the tip so long?” But one thing you have to understand is that every word in this tip is essential. Most are used to cramming, and that won’t help here. Some want to pass, they’re not after much, but the fact remains for you to be sound in what you do, you need to understand the basic concepts.
Make it a priority to understand what you’re reading. This will save you the time of reading over and over again when you need that same concept. Also, there’s this feeling of satisfaction that comes with understanding something perfectly. So read to understand.

3. Get The Right Textbooks

There are a lot of textbooks you can use to study physiology. Let me list some:
– Ganong Review of Medical Physiology
– Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology
– Essentials of Medical Physiology by Sembulingam
– Textbook of Physiology by Indu Khurana
– Human Physiology From Cell to System by Laurel Sherwood, and so on.
The commonly used ones are Ganong and Guyton, so get one for yourself. Guyton is more explanatory and breaks things down while Ganong what most lecturers (University of Ibadan lecturers) prepare their slides with. So you can get the hard copy of one and the soft copy of the other.
Laurel Sherwood’s Physiology text is one I’ll recommend it for y’all . It is very explanatory, trust me, and you can read it during your leisure like a storybook.
Well, all this is just my own opinion, and you may have something different. The main thing is to get something that you’ll read and understand. Don’t cram.

4. Don’t Procrastinate

“Procrastination is the thief of time,” we often hear. The shocking aspect is you don’t have much time in medical school. You attend classes practicals, have time for yourself, and so on. You can’t afford to waste your time. Don’t pile things up. Read as you’re being taught. That’ll help a lot.

5. Solve Questions

Get yourself a question bank and practice with it. You’ll be able to recall things you’ve read, and when you miss a question, you will revisit it in your text.

With these tips, you should be able to read and understand.

How to Pass Your Exams

Your understanding of concepts can only be tested by writing exams on those concepts. So how do you show you understand the concepts? By passing your exams. So let’s take a look at how to pass your exams.

Format of the Exams
Physiology tests and exams can be of the following types or a mixture of any of them
1. Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
2. Extended Matching Questions (EMQs)
3. True or False Type Questions
4. Short Answer Questions (SAQs)
5. Long Essays.

For University of Ibadan Medical Students, in particular, the formats used are True/False Type, Short Answer Questions, and Long Essays.
You will be writing at least four tests; the first three will be T/F type while the last will be T/F, SAQs, and Long essays.

How to Prepare for the Exams

Since most of the tests will be T/F type, accuracy is needed. Can you see why understanding concepts is essential? Don’t forget that there will be negative marking if you miss any questions. You can’t just bank on luck here; you need to be accurate.

– Read and understand your topics very well
– Practise past questions; your lecturers may lift questions from them.
– Brainstorm with friends. No one is an island of knowledge
– Don’t forget to put God in all you do. It’s not your works alone, but grace matters a lot.

Answering Questions in the Exam Hall

The time is usually limited; therefore, speed and accuracy are highly needed. Don’t forget to maintain composure and don’t fret even if you don’t know the answer to a question. Here are things you should do in the exam hall.
– Pray before you start, put everything in God’s hands, and you must have done your part.
– Read the instructions carefully, don’t be nervous.
– Read the questions very well and make sure you understand what you’re asked to do. Questions may be tricky. Don’t jump.
– Peradventure you don’t know the answer to a question, skip and return to it when you’re done. It would help if you didn’t waste much time on a question.
– Check your work over again when you’re done.
– Don’t forget to write your Matric Number on your question and answer sheets

Physiology is something you’ll enjoy. Make it a point of duty to excel in it. Love it, and it will love you back.

On that note, I wish you the best as you journey into the world of physiology. 😊

Thank you, and God bless you.


The italicized part is gotten from

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