What are the Medical School Subjects and Recommended Textbooks? (MBBS Subjects)

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One of the most difficult part of being a medical student is knowing exactly what to read for every subject you offer.

The medical school subjects and courses offered are too much, and upon that, there are lots of study materials and textbooks available just for one course.

This makes it difficult for medical students to know exactly which textbooks to buy and the ones they should not buy.

The recommended medical textbooks may vary from school to school, and this is especially dependent on what the lecturers in that medical school prefer.

But in all, there are certain books which are top-rated for the value they offer in the specific subjects in medical school which they are meant for.

The list of courses in medical school you will see on this page is based on what is widely used in medical schools in Nigeria, and many other countries in Africa, Asia, and some English-speaking countries in Europe and America.

But for the first year medical school subjects, the area of concentration will be just on medical schools in Nigeria.

Student Doctor Forums Can Help You Find the Recommended Medical School Textbooks

Community Forums

Joining student doctor forums in your school can be beneficial in many ways.

Students who interact with older colleagues are better exposed to what they should expect at their current level.

You will get to know which textbooks each lecturer prefers to use, and the study materials they use in teaching.

Table of Contents

Classification of Medical School Subjects

Subjects in medical school are broadly classified into;

  • The Premedical Subjects
  • Preclinical and
  • Clinical Subjects

The premedical subjects are those which you offer in your first year in medical school.

They are like a further advancement in the usual O’level courses; English, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.

The preclinical clinical medical school subjects include all those courses that you offer in your preclinical classes.

Those are the subjects you offer from the end of your first year in medical school till you start your clinical postings and start seeing patients.

They are also the subjects you focus on till after your first professional exam in medical school (2nd MBBS exam).

The clinical subjects are offered from after your first professional exam to the fourth and final professional exam in medical school; the 5th MBBS exam.

Recommended; What are the Medical School Exams Like? 8 Important Steps for Preparation

Textbooks are one of the most essential things to have in medical school. Even if you can’t afford them, make sure to use the Library or borrow if you can.

Medical school textbooks
Medical school subjects and textbooks

The medical school subjects for first years are all the same for medical schools in Nigeria.

But the recommended textbooks may be slightly different depending on the school.

Also, in the first year, there are hand notes compiled by the lecturers in-charge of various courses called materials.

These are usually handed over to the students to read and they are just enough to help you get an A in of the medical school subjects you offer in your first year.

But if you are over-zealous for more knowledge, then you can consider reading the following textbooks to broaden your knowledge in the various subjects listed.

Below is a list of the subjects offered in the first year of medical school:

  • General Biology
  • Human Genetics
  • Practical Biology
  • Basic Parasitology
  • General Physics
  • Practical Physics
  • General Chemistry
  • Practical Chemistry
  • General Studies
    • Use of English Studies
    • Use of Library Studies
    • Peace and Conflict Studies

Note: The above courses are offered both in your first semester and second semester of your first year in medical school.

But they will have various course codes like General Biology 1 for the first semester and General Biology 2 for the second semester.

The same goes for all the courses listed above.

Recommended Textbooks For the Relevant First-Year Courses:

The only textbooks I consider relevant for medical students in their first year are those related to Genetics and General Biology.

The others widely vary based on the curriculum used by the medical council in your country.

And these textbooks include;

2. Second MBBS Subjects in Medical School and Textbooks

The first medical professional exam (2nd MBBS) takes about 18 months to complete in most medical schools.

This covers both the 2nd year and 3rd year of medical school.

This period is very critical for medical students, and most who do not have a senior colleague to guide them often make mistakes in the beginning.

This might cause them to lose some time studying textbooks and materials which might not be relevant for their exams after all.

Before the recommended textbooks are listed, let us first see the medical school subjects offered in the 2nd and 3rd years:

I. Human Anatomy

Anatomy is the study of human structures, their origin, and microscopic components as seen under the microscope.

It has four other branches under it.

The subjects under Human Anatomy include;

  • Gross Anatomy: Study of the macroscopic parts of the human body
  • Embryology: Study of human embryological development
  • Histology: Study of human cells and tissues at a microscopic level
  • Osteology: Study of human bones

Note: The Atlas of Human anatomy mentioned above is one resource that is compulsory for the study of Anatomy.

But you can choose any of the 3 mentioned textbooks; Lasts Anatomy, B.D Chaurasia, and Clinically oriented anatomy for your use depending on which one you resonate best with.

Or you can combine all three.

Last’s Anatomy is one of the medical school textbooks that are highly advanced and comprehensive but may be a bit difficult for some students.

Chaurasia is very detailed with illustrations and easy language which makes it very simple to comprehend.

Keith Moore Clinically-oriented Anatomy is mainly used for studying clinical correlates.

Also, remember that it is not a must to have all three textbooks.

With just one of them and your lecture notes, you can comfortably pass Gross Anatomy.

Also, Read; 11 tips for studying anatomy in medical school

Note: You can use any of the two.

Note: The atlas of human anatomy and the above-mentioned textbooks for Gross Anatomy are all you need for Osteology.

II. Human Physiology

Physiology is among the broadest of all subjects in medical school.

It is the study of the normal functions of the human body.

It is also broadly divided into various parts which include:

  • General Physiology
  • Physiology of the Excitable Tissues/Neurons
  • Blood Physiology
  • Respiratory Physiology
  • Physiology of the Cardiovascular System
  • Renal Physiology
  • Physiology of the Nervous System
  • Gastrointestinal and Endocrine Physiology
  1. Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology
  2. Textbook of Physiology by Gabriel C. Ezeilo
  3. Ganong’s Review of Medical Physiology
  4. Essentials of Medical Physiology by K. Sembulingam and Prema Sembulingam

Note: The combination of any of the above two medical school textbooks is enough for your study of Human Physiology.

III. Medical Biochemistry

Medical biochemistry is the study of the chemical reactions which take place in the human body.

Topics under Medical Biochemistry include:

  • Biochemistry of Macromolecules: Carbohydrate, Protein, Nucleic acids, and Lipids
  • Diets and Nutrition
  • Metabolism
    • Carbohydrate metabolism
    • Protein metabolism
    • Lipids metabolism
    • Protein metabolism
    • Nucleic acid metabolism
Medical school textbooks for clinical classes
Medical school textbooks for clinical classes

3. Third Year Medical School Subjects and Textbooks

The 3rd MBBS class is also known as the 2nd professional exam class.

It marks the beginning of your clinical classes in medical school.

The medical school subjects which you will start studying at this time include the subjects for your index exam (the 3rd MBBS exam), and the final exam (4th MBBS exam).

But because you will not be assessed for the Medicine and Surgery subjects you offer at this time (Apart from the end of clinical and surgical rotation tests), the subjects and the respective textbooks for Medicine and Surgery final exam will be discussed under the 5th MBBS subjects and textbooks section below.

What are the offered subjects in medical school for 3rd MBBS?

I. Human Pathology

Pathology is the study of the disease processes in man.

It is broadly divided into 4 branches.

The 4 branches of Pathology include;

  • Morbid Anatomy and Histochemistry: It is the study of diseased body tissues.
  • Hematology: It is the study of blood and related diseases.
  • Medical Microbiology: It is the study of disease-causing micro-organisms
  • Chemical Pathology: it is the biochemical study and investigation of body fluids.
  • Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease by Stanley, L. Robins: This book is very comprehensive, and it is all about what you need for Histopathology and Histochemistry. It should be combined with lecture notes and study materials recommended by lecturers in your various medical schools.

II. Pharmacology

This is the study of drugs and their use in the cure and management of diseases.

Note: Any one of the above can serve.

Also, check out the recommended medical apps every medical student must have

4. Fourth Year Subjects in Medical School and Textbooks

4th MBBS class is the 3rd professional exam class in medical school.

There are two medical school subjects offered in the 4th MBBS class, and they include;

I. Paediatrics

Pediatrics covers all aspects of Medicine, but this time, it is only for children. It is quite voluminous and requires lots of dedication and study.

  • Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics by Karen J. Marcdante and Robert M. Kliegman
  • Textbook of pediatrics by Pervaiz Akbar
  • Pediatrics and Child Health by J.C Azubuike and Nkanginieme (This textbook is mainly for those in the tropics)

II. Obstetrics and Gynecology (O&G)

O&G as it is popularly called involves the study of maternal health, and that of women as a whole.

5. Final Year Subjects in Medical School and Textbooks

Final MBBS is also called the 5th MBBS class.

After completing this exam, then you are qualified to be called a doctor.

The medical school Subjects offered in Final MBBS include:

I. Medicine

Medicine is one of the medical school subjects with many branches which include:

  • Cardiology
  • Pulmonology
  • Dermatology
  • Neurology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Nephrology
  • Endocrinology
  • Rheumatology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Metabolic Disorders
  • Psychiatry
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Palliative Medicine

II. Surgery

Surgery is also one of the subjects in medical school that just like Medicine has many subspecialties and branches which include:

  • Orthopedic Surgery and Traumatology
  • General Surgery
  • Urology
  • Trauma and Emergency Surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Plastic Surgery
  • Anaesthesiology
  • Radiology
  • Ear Nose and Throat (Otolaryngology)
  • Ophthalmology

III. Public Health and Community Medicine

This is the last of the subjects in medical school.

It also covers research work and projects carried out in partial fulfillment of the MBBS program.

Final Words!

It is not compulsory that you have all the listed medical exams for you to succeed in your medical exams.

There are many medical school textbooks that are available in different parts of the world which are very good.

So just find the one that is recommended by your school or older colleagues and combine them with the lecture notes and materials and that is enough.

A lot of medical students even rely on just the lecture notes to pass their exams, while others prefer reading their medical school textbooks for various subjects in medical school.

Just find out whatever works for you and keep improving.

Also, Read; Career opportunities after studying medicine in Nigeria

You Can Get Medical Textbooks at a Cheaper Rate!

Medical school textbooks are very expensive, but you can get them at better rates from Jumia.

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