Second year sees a turn from basic scientific principles to a high focus on physiology and basic pathophysiology. Although the work load for this semester is greater than either semester in Year 1, students generally find it easier as they are more familiar with study techniques and the university lifestyle. It is highly regarded as the most enjoyable of the pre-clinical years.


Semester 1 Subjects

  • Cardiovascular Medicine (CVM)
  • Respiratory Medicine (RM)
  • Haematological and Renal Medicine (HRM)
  • Rural, Remote, Indigenous and Tropical Health (RRITH)


This semester is packed with anatomy and physiology in CVM, RM and HRM. These subjects all introduce pathophysiology to some extent and are very intertwined with each other. RRITH is a much more clinically orientated subject than EH1 and 2 and explores many issues regarding tropical and Indigenous health, which also delves back to many issues brought up in EH1 and 2 in significantly more depth. All the subjects provide their own hurdles and different students find different subjects difficult. There are no stand out difficult subjects  this semester.

Cardiovascular Medicine focuses on the heart as well as the blood vessels connected to it. Week 1 provides a foundation of basic heart anatomy while weeks 2 – 4 are fixated on normal / abnormal electrophysiology and the cardiac cycle. Weeks 5 – 6 are concerned blood vessels and haemodynamics, while weeks 7 – 13 centre around heart conditions. Points of interest include hypertension, ischaemic heart disease, congenital defects and heart failure.

Respiratory Medicine focuses on the normal lung functioning as well as respiratory pathology. Weeks 1 – 2 are focussed on thoracic and airway anatomy, while future weeks focus on normal respiratory physiology, as well as common abnormal pathology and conditions. Items of interest include acid-base physiology, asthma, emphysema, pneumothorax, cystic fibrosis and hypobaric and hyperbaric conditions. Before the exam, it is best to gain a good understanding of normal respiratory physiology in order to better understand its common pathological ailments.

Haematological and Renal Medicine focuses on the features of blood as well as normal renal physiology. Weeks 1 – 7 are focused on normal blood functioning as well as common blood disorders, while Weeks 8 – 11 are centred on normal renal anatomy and physiology, as well as common pathology. Students will be exposed to a variety of clinical conditions, such as anaemias, haemostatic diseases, white-blood cell disorders and renal disease.  While learning all the clinical conditions can seem intense, at this stage you would only be expected to know the pathophysiology of these disorders.

As its name suggests, RRITH focuses mainly on Rural, Remote, Indigenous and Tropical Health. Weeks 1 – 4 focus on rural epidemiology, health trends, indigenous communication and rheumatic heart disease, while Weeks 5 – 6 are concerned with unique tropical conditions and diseases. The following weeks are centred on the rural workforce and emergency and disaster medicine.  RRITH is very content laden and should be studied as much as other subjects in the lead up to exams.


Clinical skills:

  • History Taking Workshop
  • Respiratory Examination
  • Cardiovascular Examination
  • Gastrointestinal Examination
  • Giving Injections / Vaccinations


Recommended Textbooks:

Guyton and Hall, Textbook of Medical Physiology: This textbook is central to a variety of subjects throughout first and second year. It is regularly referred to in lectures and is filled with recommended readings for the 3 Physiology subjects in SP1.


Other Textbooks

Moore and Dalley, Clinically Orientated Anatomy: Although not a recommended text book, it is referred to a fair bit throughout the anatomy sections throughout most subjects. Many diagrams and explanations come from this book. Although a very good and helpful book, it is not really worth spending so much money for the few lectures that it is used for.

  • Essential Haematology, Hoffbrand and Moss
  • Pathophysiology of Heart Disease, Lilly 
  • Pulmonary Pathophysiology, West

These books are used in 1-2 weeks of their respected subjects. Once again there are online versions and much of the content that is from these books is taught in the lectures. There are also online copies of these books that can be used rather than buying the textbooks.


Semester 2 Subjects (2014)

  • Neuroscience (NS)
  • Gastrointestinal Medicine & Nutrition (GIMN)
  • Human Development and Behaviour (HDB)
  • Medical Pharmacology (MP)


The three medical subjects (NS, GIMN and HDB) are the three subjects in SP2. NS and GIMN are much like the first semester subjects going over anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology. NS is very content heavy and as such it is recommended that students pay a bit more attention to this subject. HDB is very fascinating as it deals with a lot of psychological issues as well as behaviour and development of these issues.

Neuroscience mainly focuses on the central and peripheral nervous systems as well as normal physiology. Weeks 1 – 2 focus on normal development and blood supply while future weeks focus on the neurobiological basis of brain functioning. Items of interest include learning, sleep, somatosensory and motor processing. Being extremely content laden, neuroscience is arguably the hardest subject of year 2.

As its name suggests, Human Development and Behaviour is concerned with normal human development as well as the mental state. While the first few weeks provide an introduction to the biopsychosocial approach to health and development over a lifespan, following weeks focus on concepts such as emotions, communication and intelligence. HDB can be akin to a psychology-like subject.

Medical Pharmacology focuses and introduces students to the major drug groups used in the management of common medical conditions. The disorders are organised by organ system and students are also introduced to basic pathophysiology of the disorder.


Clinical skills:

  • Neurologic Examination
  • Musculoskeletal History Taking Examination


Recommended Text Books

Guyton and Hall, Textbook of Medical Physiology: This textbook is central to a variety of subjects throughout first and second year. It is also used throughout GIMN and some parts of NS.


Other Text books

Moore and Dalley: This text book is used in all the anatomy sections of NS which makes roughly a quarter of the subject. It is also very useful for the other subjects in terms of anatomy.

Neuroscience, Bear: Many students find this book to be incredibly helpful while other students feel that it is not that helpful. Neuroscience is a field that is constantly changing and quite regularly many of these concepts change, It comes down to the students discretion as to whether they get the book or not. There are some recommended readings from this book however many of the concepts are on the web.


Clinical Skills

Clinical skills are more important and tie in with the work that you do in class. Each clinical skills rotation works on a specific body system.


Talley and O’Connor Clinical Examination: This book is very important for clinical skills. Although this book isn’t used that much in second year it is a very useful tool that is used extensively in the clinical years (especially fourth year).



Second year placement is a 4 week rural placement that can be organised by the University of by yourself in a approved rural area. This can be done both in Australia or in a country where the health care system is similar to Australia. This is an amazing part of second year as you are actively able to apply the knowledge you have learnt throughout the year into clinical settings as well as pick up more knowledge as you go. The placement is very much what you make it, and it is up to the student to pursue more learning opportunities and build rapport with their seniors, peers and the community.

This placement takes place either mid-year or at the end of the year. The benefits of taking a mid-year placement are that you get a longer end-of-year break. The downside is that you only have 2 weeks for a break before you start the next semester. You can have a longer mid semester break if you undertake an end-of-year placement, but that means you will need to complete your rural diary over the summer holidays.

Students who have been flagged by the School of Medicine as being “at risk” of supplementary exams are advised to undertake their placement mid year.

If you wish to undertake a rural placement outside of Queensland, you must contact other health service providers by yourself. Once you have found a supervisor willing to take you for placement, you must submit the required paperwork to the CoMD for approval.

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