First, you’ll need to know all the important parts of the body—the things a humanoid creature needs to survive. This includes everything from organs and tissues down to the macromolecules and atoms that make up our cells. You’ll also need to know where the important bones, muscles, and organs are located and what they look like. Anatomy teaches you all of that (which will also come in handy if you decide to be a doctor, surgeon, or an x-ray technician one day).
Once you know what everything is and where it’s located, it’s important to know how it works, and that’s where physiology comes in. You’ll learn about the function of each part of the body, and most importantly, the systems they control—cardiovascular, digestive, respiratory, etc. (this is also pretty important if you want to be something like a biochemist, pharmacologist, or a general physician).
To make things more convenient for budding evil overlords, these classes are often taught together and organized by system. That way, you can learn all the parts of a system (like the skeletal system) and then study how they work together.
Study Like a Mad Scientist
It’s hard to figure out what to be these days. The job market keeps changing, robotic workers are looming on the horizon, and there are so many choices! If you’ve narrowed it down to life sciences, you’re probably interested in a career like doctor, medical professional, or scientist. Or maybe you’re thinking a little more… outside of the box. You know, for job security.
Fortunately, some courses will help you prosper in all of those fields! For example, if your career plans involve, say, the creation of a mutant army of genetically-altered human-werewolf hybrids (you know, to protect us from all those robots), you’re going to need a solid foundation in human biology, especially anatomy and physiology.
Study Survival Guide
Whether you want to be a doctor or start your quest for world domination, it’s a fact: everything sounds cooler in Latin. If you really want to establish your scientific street cred, you’re going to have to learn a lot of big, complicated words.
The human body has dozens and dozens of components, most of which go by names with Greek and Latin roots, and you’ll have to learn how they all fit together, so there’s really no avoiding some memorization. But fortunately, there are a few tricks to make it easier.
- Embrace repetition. Nothing prepares you for a life of world domination like a little feverish repetition. When you’re trying to memorize the components of a system, take it a little bit at a time rather than doing it all at once, and try some memorization techniques like writing out lists over and over, making up songs, inventing mnemonics, writing flashcards, or building a “memory palace” to help you keep everything straight.
- Get in touch with your roots. Break big fancy words down to learn their meanings (Greek and Latin root flashcards can be helpful here and can help you as you learn about all the different systems).
- Make it holistic. Engage your senses in the learning process to keep yourself from going too Write things down, build models, and draw pictures to engage your sense of touch and vision. Go to all your lectures and watch or listen to recorded ones help cement ideas by hearing them. Re-read your notes and print out important diagrams to review regularly. Visualize components and where they belong as you say the names out loud to engage multiple senses at once. Pay attention during labs—they’ll give you concrete experience to match your memorization.
- Hone your sense of direction. Make sure to get the general anatomical directions straight early on—anterior and posterior, superior and inferior, etc. This will make your life way easier down the road (especially when you’re ordering your minions around).
- Doodle. Nothing makes you look more like an evil genius than lots and lots of medical diagrams lying around, so spend some time drawing pictures of what you’re learning, even if you don’t think you’re good at it. Try mapping out the quadrants of the body and labeling what you can remember. You can also make models or practice assembling the ones at the lab to keep things fresh.
Physiology doesn’t require quite as much memorization as anatomy, but there are still a few things you can do to make it easier:
- Disrupt the status quo. Think of everything in terms of stability and disruption. The body is always trying to return to homeostasis—a balanced equilibrium state. When you learn about different systems, try to focus on how they respond to disruption in order to restore that equilibrium. This involves cause and effect as well as positive and negative feedback loops between cells and organs. Learn those pathways! You’ll be glad you did when your flying spider-monkey sidekicks get sick and have only you to turn to.
- Stay ahead of the curve. Try to read up on or watch videos of important topics before class, so you’ll take better notes and know what all the words mean. This way, the lectures will serve as another form of repetition, rather than your first exposure to a topic. After all, you may be the future Supreme Ruler of the entire galactic empire, but for now, you really need to pass this class. Absorbing everything your professor has to say will help you do that!
In the end, anatomy and physiology are phenomenally interesting courses that will help you understand the world and your place in it a little bit better. With foresight and good time-management (a core skill that many evil scientists forget to develop, resulting in their eventual defeat by a ragtag bunch of misfits), you too can take your first steps towards a rewarding, fulfilling career!