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Physician Courses and Classes Overview

Physician classes cover everything from basic bodily systems and functions to interacting with patients and responding in ethical situations. These courses are normally taken during a full medical school program. Explore the coursework in detail by reading on.

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Essential Information

Physician courses are offered in programs for medical students in their first and second years of medical school. These courses provide the theoretical knowledge and practical skills students need for the clinical rotations they participate in during the third and fourth years of a doctoral program in medicine. Clinical rotations usually involve several weeks of study in many specific areas of medicine, such as psychiatry, family medicine, general surgery, pediatrics and obstetrics.

Students in a physician program first learn about the basics of body systems, causes of diseases, medical ethics and patient interaction. It's common for the first couple years of a medical school program to also include specialty coursework in areas such as dermatology, the musculoskeletal system, hematology, the respiratory system and the cardiovascular system.

After completing a medicine doctoral program, it's normal for graduates to do a residency in a chosen specialty. Before being able to practice medicine, aspiring physicians need to get licensed by passing medical exams and successfully completing their specialty training. The licensure exam for medical doctors is the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).

Here are some common concepts encountered in classes for aspiring physicians:

  • Body structure and function
  • Homeostasis
  • Integration of systems
  • Disease
  • Ethics
  • Research

List of Physician Courses

Basic Anatomy Course

Nearly all medical schools begin the same way, by introducing students to human anatomy and normal body functions. Basic anatomy is one of the essential physician courses, dealing with the structure of the human body and the function of its various components. Students learn the composition of the musculoskeletal system, the layout of the circulatory system and the location and functions of different organs. This course is usually taught through lectures and laboratory practice. Occasionally also referred to as gross anatomy, this physician course often involves the dissection of a human cadaver.

Pathology Course

Pathology is the science of disease and the changes caused by diseases. Usually taught in the second year of medical school, physician courses in pathology teach students how diseases are contracted, the effects of different diseases on the human body, the warning signs of disease and the behavior of different bacteria and viruses. Depending on the medical school, this course can be taught as part of a larger program focusing on different organ functions or as its own subject. Physician courses in pathology are usually taught alongside courses in microbiology and immunology.

Physician and Patient Interaction Course

Physician courses that cover interaction between doctors and their patients is offered in the first and second years of medical school and are prerequisites for completing clinicals, during which students experience many different medical specialties to determine their preference. The course covers taking advanced medical history and bedside manners. Students gain practical experience interacting with patients while professors observe and analyze their interactions.

Pharmacology Course

Reserved for second-year medical students, physician courses in pharmacology teach the basics of drugs and other medications. Special topics include physiological effects of drugs, drug withdrawal effects, drug dispensation and allergic reactions to drugs. Students explore the history of pharmacology, read the latest research in the field and learn proper medicine dosages. In many medical schools, pharmacology is one of the last physician courses taught before students spend their next two years doing rotation through different major medical specialties.

Bioethics Course

Typically, students complete the required physician classes in bioethics during their second year of medical school. Through this course, students develop a foundation for relating to medical issues they could encounter as doctors, such as patient confidentiality and end of life care. The class discovers medical ethics through discussion in small groups, case studies, videos and major research in the field. Usually, students have the opportunity to gain practical experiences applying medical ethics to patient care.

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