Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Studying for Med School

One common advice I got, and one advice I can give to anyone who wants to be in med school to become a doctor is to ask yourself many times if this is really what you want for yourself. There is no second-guessing and no room for indecision because your profession will consume all your time and resources. Try to analyze your motives because if it's flimsy and you decide to quit one day, or if you happen to flunk, there goes thousands of pesos down the drain. Once you start your studies in a particular med school, you grit your teeth and bear it because transferring to another med school will mean you will start from square one.

As early as my first week, I encountered several hurdles- some minor ones like adjusting to the new environment, but largely it was getting used to the rigors of med school that was unsettling. Being a BSN graduate, I had the assumption that I'd have an easy time since we had our background of basic sciences like organic chemistry and anatomy, but I was mistaken. Turned out our discussions in Biochemistry, Histology, and Physiology were superficial, and it was only upon stepping into med school did I realize the enormity of the scope of those subjects.

There is the challenge of being able to fit everything into schedule. On a daily basis, you have to read in advance before coming to class (in order to wipe that blank look on your face during lectures) and read after class, and eventually reviewing once more prior to exams. The amount of new information you take in each day is overwhelming- pathways, structures, functions, computations, clinical correlations- and I'm just talking about Biochem. There are bones, ligaments, fossa, tuberosities I have never heard of, charts and nerves and networks of vessels hidden beneath the stinging formalin-saturated cadaver in front of you. Each time I go home I try to force myself to read but sometimes I'm too tired or my brain is just spilling over with information from the day's discussion that I fall asleep. Then I wake up at 3am to read.

The worst part would have to be after all the faithful preparations, you still find the exams tricky and difficult. But like one med student from PLM posted in her blog, it is not necessarily the smartest who survive in med school- it is the most adapted. So below are some steps to make life a little bit easier:

1. Create a timetable of what to read based on the syllabus; prioritize accordingly. If Embryology is just 10% of your Gross and Clinical Anatomy grade, then by all means study Anatomy first.

2. Organize your notes and books. Even if we have 8 subjects, the number of references may very well almost reach 20. This is because some books may explain certain concepts better than your "official" reference.

3. Read. There's the 1st reading which is just an overview, then next you read again and digest even the smallest detail- highlighting the important points.

4. Note what your professor includes and emphasizes during the lectures- the exams are likely based on what they discussed.

5. There are many approaches to learning- draw structures, make charts, simplify data. Customize or devise your own, suited to your learning style.

6. Memorize what needs memorizing.

7. Self-evaluation/ testing by end chapter exercises or reviewers.

And here's the catch: more often than not, you won't have enough time to do all this. Your skill in adapting new strategies now comes in.

The most important advice is to enjoy and make your experience in med school meaningful- going beyond self-enrichment as a motive, but rather becoming a good physician and serve society to the best of one's abilities.


neurotic_mess said...

Hi Thad...I don't know if I can use any of your tips. I'm stubborn. I'd rather sleep and the universe will do the rest. =)

Thad said...

hehe baga man ito han The Secret that Dr. Reyes made us watch ;-) Balitaw I guess we all have our styles in studying.. See you Monday!


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