How to study Physiology in a Medical College: A complete guide

How to study Physiology in a Medical College: A complete guide

In this article I am going to tell about how to study physiology in a medical college. This subject requires a lot of understanding and it is going to make foundation for all the subjects you will study in your medical journey so it’s important to have a strong  foundation.

Medical Examination Department
Baitaal, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What is Clinical Physiology?

So when I was in my 1st year studying physiology I used to think that studying physiology or the changes that happen is clinical physiology. Later I understood that it was pathophysiology of a disease not the complete picture of Clinical Physiology.

So How to Study Physiology Clinically? i.e. How do you apply Physiology in Clinics?

Let me take you to Clinics.

A patient comes to you with Dyspnea i.e the shortness of breath. What do you think he has?

Shortness of breath by Gan Khoon Lay from the Noun Project

Apparantly many things – It can be pneumonia or a Myocardial Infarction.

You also see that the patient has difficulty in exhaling and he is feeling lungs to be full and it’s getting hard to breathe out. He also presents with wheezing (Due to narrowing of wind pipe).

X-ray of COPD exacerbation - anteroposterior view

With this information you can say that he has some obstructive lung disease. Now what is the exact disease, that we will see in pathology.

So where was physiology in all this? It’s where we analysed the symptoms and concluded that patient has obstructive lung disease.

Figure 39 03 05f
CNX OpenStax, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take home message – Whenever you study some system in physiology. After studying it you should be able to tell what is wrong with the physiology of the system in patients

There are many more examples

I will give you too clinical vignette and you tell me what is wrong with their physiology? In simple words – what would you find in history and examination in every system disease.

Caution : If you haven’t studied these systems then skip to the next section.

Q1. A 60-year-old male patient with hypertension has had his blood pressure reasonably well controlled by administration of a thiazide diuretic. At his last visit (6 months ago), his blood pressure was 130/75 mm Hg and his serum creatinine was 1 mg/100 ml. He has been exercising regularly for the past 2 years but recently has reported knee pain and began taking large amounts of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. When he arrives at your office, his blood pressure is 155/85 mm Hg and his serum creatinine is 2.5 mg/100 ml. What best explains his increased serum creatinine level?

  1. A) Increased efferent arteriolar resistance that reduced GFR
  2. B) Increased afferent arteriolar resistance that reduced GFR
  3. C) Increased glomerular capillary filtration coefficient that reduced GFR
  4. D) Increased angiotensin II formation that decreased GFR
  5. E) Increased muscle mass due to the exercise

Q2. . A 45-year-old woman adds high-fiber wheat and bran foods to her diet to reduce her serum cholesterol levels. She had avoided eating foods containing wheat or rye since she was a child because her mother said they would make her sick. The woman loses 25 pounds on her new diet but has frequent stomach cramps, gas, and diarrhea. She has also become weaker, finding it difficult to complete her morning walks. What is most likely to be increased in this woman?

  1. A) Blood hemoglobin concentration
  2. B) Carbohydrate absorption
  3. C) Fecal fat
  4. D) Protein absorption
  5. E) Serum calcium

Try to answer these in the comment sections

These are taken from the following book.


The most important subject you will study in your medical career is medicine. The foundation of medicine is 3Ps i.e. Physiology, Pathology and Pharmacology.

So whenever you are studying any system in Physiology, remember that you have to integrate it with Pathology and Pharmacology later.

How to study Physiology?

In physiology we have theory as well as practical portion

Let’s start with theory –

For theory start with your lecture and lecture notes. Do not directly jump to textbooks. It is a highly conceptual subject. So before reading the chapter you should have an insight about what are you going to study in that system.

If you didn’t understand your classroom lecture then surf Youtube, you can find good lectures on internet.

Now for books I have made a separate section for books where you can see all the books and read reviews of seniors for each and every book.

One thing I would like to mention – In physiology choose the book you understand easily and the one give you some clinical insight as anyways you need that to make strong base for medicine.

Now Let’s see practical-

There are 3 sections for practicals –

  1. Clinical examination
  2. Hematology practicals
  3. Human practicals

In clinical examination you will study all the examinations you will be doing for the rest of your life – they are divided system wise so you can easily correlate with your lectures.

In Hematology practicals you will study the methodology of doing them. You will be see more of them in pathology.

Mahmood Jawdat, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In human practicals you will do stuff like spirometry and taking blood pressures.

So here You just need to understand the methodology of the practical and what it is telling about the physiology.

In viva examiners will just ask the methodology and what is the physiology involved. So the theory books are better to study for your physiology practicals than your practical viva voice.

Here is a video I made about physiology.

10 thoughts on “How to study Physiology in a Medical College: A complete guide”

      1. Well I think the answer to first question should be reduction in GFR due to afferent arteriole constriction due to decrease in prostaglandin, due to NSAID use i.e option B.
        For second question , the diagnosis is gluten sensitive enteropathy and clinically fecal fat can be seen thus option C , I think.

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