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Studying for anatomy & physiology tests? - October 4th 2011, 08:10 PM

I'm a senior this year and want to be a medical assistant. I'm taking anatomy & physiology because of the career I want to go into. Its a college level class and I'll have to take it again in college, but I'm failing right now. So whats a good way to study for the tests and everything?
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Re: Studying for anatomy & physiology tests? - October 4th 2011, 09:25 PM

There's no easy way to memorize the anatomy, you just have to review it over and over again. It can help to make mnemonics for particular systems. For example, for human wrist bones, you can use the mnemonics of "Sam Likes To Push The Toy Car Hard" (Scaphoid, Lunate, Triquetrium, Pisiform, Trapezium, Trapezoid, Capitate, Hamate). It can also be helpful to know a bit of Latin so the words are easier to remember. For example, one section of the brain is called zona incertia (uncertain/unknown zone).

Physiology is a bit of a different story, although I'm not sure how in-depth you study in your course. One of my third-year university bio courses was integrative physiology, which meant you not only learn of each main system but also how they interact with one another. I found it best to draw flow charts for main biochemicals and link them with other systems. Eventually, I had around 12 or so double-sided sheets of paper filled with flow charts and I memorized them. It's also helpful to study by thinking, "what if X is absent or dysfunctional?" because it forces you to see the systems at work.

Here are some general examples you can try to figure out for yourself (some may be beyond your scope of knowledge because I'm not sure what you have learned):

- Renin is not available to convert angiotensinogen to angiotensin I. How will this affect renal functioning? (Hint: think how AVP/vasopressin/ADH is related to the renin-angiotensin system).
- You have ingested an excessive amount of water. Briefly describe what your body will do to increased water excretion.
- Dave is strenuously exercising in the gym and is feeling the "burn" from lactic acid buildup. What is the danger of having extreme lactic acid buildup and how can it be returned to normal levels? (Hint: remember partial pressures of O2 and CO2, as well as pH).
- Name any hormones in the body that cause vasoconstriction? Vasodialation?
- What is the function of calcitonin in the body? What has to happen for calcitonin to be activated? (Hint: think calcium).
- What is the difference between "funny" sodium channels and normal sodium channels? (Hint: think pacemaker cells/potential).
- The muscle cell plasma membrane has been depolarized. How will this affect calcium and various calcium receptors to ultimately cause muscle contraction?
- Tetrodotoxin (TTX) from undercooked puffer fish inhibits voltage-gated sodium ion channels. What will happen to a neuron when the concentration of TTX gradually increases?
- A set of researchers are going to administer tetraethylammonium (TEA) to a neuron. TEA blocks voltage-gated potassium ion channels. How will this affect the neuron's function and action potentials?

Different people will use different ways to think of physiology. For myself, I used analogies as close to real-life as possible and envisioned the systems as cartoons.

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