Sounds like the workload is super intense! Does it really help to have taken undergrad classes like microbio, immunology, etc.? Or are you referring to your master's level classes? It seems like a lot of people say not to bother with taking more science classes in undergrad because the focus and volume in med school will be very different... but I'm wondering if it's true?
I was asked this question about a month ago, and I promised I would expand further upon my initial answer. The workload in medical school will be intense regardless of whether or not you have had previous exposure. I took anatomy and microbiology solely on an undergraduate level, and the exposure did help, but very little. Understanding the terminology is a huge part of anatomy, and without any previous knowledge, it can make things a bit harder once you hit medical school, although you will probably make out just fine. I previously took anatomy back in 2006 and retained very little of the information I was taught. What did help was being familiar with terms such as prone, supine, origin, insertion, etc. This was not taught to us in lecture in medical school, but instead it was provided as a very large word document full of common terms. Since I remembered these terms, I was able to spend more time actually learning and retaining the material than trying to understand what every other word meant. The same applies for microbiology. We are now taking it this term, and I can say with almost one hundred percent certainty that I retained less than 1% of the material taught in undergrad, but being familiar with it helps.
When it comes to classes I took in my master’s program, I can say that they are super helpful! Last term, practically every course (with the exception of anatomy) was brand new to me, and I actually had to force myself to really learn the material. This term, practically every single subject we are covering (minus pathology) was taught to me in my master’s program. In my graduate program, I focused more on learning than memorizing, and it is paying off really well for me this term. I actually feel like I have more free time this term, because I get to skip the basics. I can also say that medical school is not more difficult than graduate school in the level of the course work. In grad school, I had to literally write out mechanisms in biochemistry and I needed to learn, what felt like to me, every single, small detail about a subject. Biochemistry is way more enjoyable when you only have to know the major steps and components of glycolysis, versus having to know and be able to draw out the complete mechanisms like I did in grad school.
So what is it that makes medical school so intense? THE WORKLOAD!!!!!! Pretty much what might have taken me a month or two of graduate school to learn, we cover in about two weeks or less. This pretty much applies to every subject, so imagine an entire month of maybe 19 credit hours in undergrad, double that, condense it into one week, and you have how fast we cover everything in medical school. It is extremely overwhelming, and enough to make even the brightest students struggle. The focus is also different, but only in the sense that everything is now more clinically-oriented. This is a positive aspect to me though, because I feel like I am actually learning about stuff that is relevant to my goals as a future physician.
So, if you’re currently a pre-medical student considering taking advanced science courses, my recommendations are below. If you are not able to take some of these courses, please do not stress about it. Even if it means you will have to put in a little more effort than your peers, chances are that you will make out just fine with or without taking them. I hope this helped answer the question, and if there is anything else you want to know, feel free to ask!
Recommended Courses to Take Before Medical School
And I’ll add to the list as the terms progress!