The past few weeks have been rough, but I’m grateful to have had the opportunity. I, along with 24 other students, participated in a premarticulation program. I consider it a mini-medical school boot camp. We were exposed to and tested on topics in gross anatomy, genetics and molecular medicine, physiology, histology and embryology.
The pace of the information was fast, which was expected. This helped me tweak my study techniques as much as possible before I start the real deal in another week. It is very true what I’ve heard many people say — you won’t be able to study like you did for an undergraduate degree and you won’t know what will work for you until you’re actually trying techniques out.
Here’s a quick summary of my thoughts and what I learned:
- The goal is to find the most efficient and effective techniques that will help you learn the material quickly. These techniques will be different for each class and for each individual.
- If you haven’t already, take a learning style quiz to see what techniques may help you. I am a kinesthetic and visual learner so I try to focus on answering questions, drawing diagrams and pictures and reading in an interactive way.
- Ask fellow classmates or upperclassmen what they do or did to learn the material for a particular subject or class. Someone may have found a technique that works for them, which may help you.
- Don’t expect to learn everything. Aim for the most important information.
- I struggle with this one. A classmate offered to help me sift through the material to pick out the most important information, aka the high-yield facts and concepts we need to know. I may have to take her up on that!
- The descriptor I’ve heard the most often is that the information is like a water hose. You can only take in so much. I think working in groups and asking myself, “What is the most important info?” will keep me on task.
- Time management will be your friend!
- It sucks, but it works. I have done this in the past and it’s helpful in squeezing in all the things you need to do.
- I’m not very good at allowing myself to schedule personal things in there, like hobbies or relaxation. I am working on that.
- Don’t get behind! When your time is up for a subject, put it aside. It will be too hard to catch up if you get behind. So, do a preview for each class and review after lecture in the allotted time you have.
- “Weekends are for catching up.” That’s what the academic support director told us. If you didn’t finish reviewing some information during the week, set it aside and note that you’ll review it over the weekend.
- Build your survival team, and don’t take them for granted. You will rely on your classmates, faculty, staff and family/friends.
- A second year medical student shared similar advice during a student panel discussion. Take the idea seriously.
- Studying in groups will help you keep up, will allow you to teach and quiz each other and will allow for some human contact. (Ha!) They know what you are going through and can relate to issues you may have.
- Don’t take family or non-medical friends for granted. They will be there to give you a break from all things medical and will be there to lend emotional support.
- Eat, sleep and exercise. You can’t live a healthy life or be productive without these 3 things.
- It will be difficult, but you can and will do it.
- Some good analogies the academic support director shared with me are a mother with a colicky baby or a newly-divorced mother with young kids. You may not like what you’re going through, but eventually you wake up one day and you realize, “I don’t like this, but I’m making it and I’m doing a darn good job of it.”
- Don’t keep your struggles to yourself. Talk it out with fellow students, a mentor, an advisor or the school’s counselor. They know it’s tough and they’re there to help. Be honest with yourself and seek help when you need it.
Good luck and congratulations to all the incoming MS1s! It will be tough, but find time to enjoy yourself.