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Different career goals = different study time?

xylem29

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Hi,

From my interviews, I've noticed that there are differing opinions about how heavy the work load is in med school - some students have told me that it's not that bad and that they have lots of time to do other things - these students are involved in multiple EC activities. Others have told me that they find med school very challenging and time consuming, that it is actually heavier than undergrad and that they find themselves having to study everyday.

Is this due to basic differences in people's study habits? Like, some people just do not need to study all the time in order to do well, while others need to study consistently in order to keep up.

Or could this be due to students' differing career goals? For example, are the students who are already aiming for dermatology (or any other competitive specialty) the ones who would typically try really hard to honor their MS1 and MS2 years (hence, find med school really tough and time consuming) while those students who don't care what they get into would just try to coast through med school content with just passing??

I mean, some medical students have criticized their class-mates (which I found to be a big turn off, but I guess I should have expected it, med school ain't all peaches and cream) by saying: "yea, some kids here study all the time and are in the library 24/7 with no life. Me, I need to go out once and a while" etc. you know, the typical thing that most people say about how they can't study all the time, that they need to have a life too, and always throwing a jab at other students while they are explaining themselves...anyway, my point is - are the students who study A LOT doing so b/c that is simply how they are, or is it b/c they care more about their grades because of residency competition?
 

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Hey xylem,

To answer your main question, different med students study they way they study for both reasons. There's not an importance placed on one factor (i.e. that's how their study habits are) over the other (i.e. they are or aren't aiming for a top residency/specialty). Well, not in general anyway. Most certainly, you will find individual differences, because as with any group of people, it's difficult to generalize.

One thing is that the majority of M1's have no idea what they want to go into, and most of the ones that say they DO will probably change their minds by the time 4th year rolls around. Given that, most people study with these things in mind: just enough to pass (or high pass, or honor, depending on their standards) their classes and, most importantly, to understand the material well enough for boards...rather than "I'm going to study hardcore because I want such-and-such residency" right off the bat. My feeling is that you'll find the latter mentality in the students while they're studying for Step 1 since much more emphasis is placed on your board scores than your pre-clinical grades when you apply for residency. In fact, this is a more sensible approach for most people, in my opinion. You don't want to burn out before it really starts to matter. Don't get me wrong though, I don't think it's any smarter to just coast through and "barely pass" either. You never know what you might want to end up doing, so don't develop any study habits that will make you look back and go, "Hmm I wish I tried a little harder, I really really like [insert competitive specialty here]" in your 3rd or 4th year. Do your best. (I know, boring and cliche, but ehh, it's all I got :laugh: )

I say, let the gunners gun. Their dedication will make them brilliant doctors one day. I respect that they have such lofty ambitions and I'm impressed by their sheer willpower. I have nothing against them, unless they're competitive dinguses who are just out to get me. But if you know you can't make yourself study THAT HARD ALL THE TIME (it's really difficult to do that, believe me), then why not give yourself a break every now and then (or more often than that, again depending on the standards you set for yourself)? Just make sure you step it up when you study for Step 1, when you really do have to study that hard. The whole time.

Good luck with the application process! It's a real bitch, I know. Have you gotten in anywhere yet? If so, congrats on making it through! If not, keep your head up, and soon you'll be exactly where you need to be. :luck:
 

IckeyShuffle

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Hey xylem,

To answer your main question, different med students study they way they study for both reasons. There's not an importance placed on one factor (i.e. that's how their study habits are) over the other (i.e. they are or aren't aiming for a top residency/specialty). Well, not in general anyway. Most certainly, you will find individual differences, because as with any group of people, it's difficult to generalize.

One thing is that the majority of M1's have no idea what they want to go into, and most of the ones that say they DO will probably change their minds by the time 4th year rolls around. Given that, most people study with these things in mind: just enough to pass (or high pass, or honor, depending on their standards) their classes and, most importantly, to understand the material well enough for boards...rather than "I'm going to study hardcore because I want such-and-such residency" right off the bat. My feeling is that you'll find the latter mentality in the students while they're studying for Step 1 since much more emphasis is placed on your board scores than your pre-clinical grades when you apply for residency. In fact, this is a more sensible approach for most people, in my opinion. You don't want to burn out before it really starts to matter. Don't get me wrong though, I don't think it's any smarter to just coast through and "barely pass" either. You never know what you might want to end up doing, so don't develop any study habits that will make you look back and go, "Hmm I wish I tried a little harder, I really really like [insert competitive specialty here]" in your 3rd or 4th year. Do your best. (I know, boring and cliche, but ehh, it's all I got :laugh: )

I say, let the gunners gun. Their dedication will make them brilliant doctors one day. I respect that they have such lofty ambitions and I'm impressed by their sheer willpower. I have nothing against them, unless they're competitive dinguses who are just out to get me. But if you know you can't make yourself study THAT HARD ALL THE TIME (it's really difficult to do that, believe me), then why not give yourself a break every now and then (or more often than that, again depending on the standards you set for yourself)? Just make sure you step it up when you study for Step 1, when you really do have to study that hard. The whole time.

Good luck with the application process! It's a real bitch, I know. Have you gotten in anywhere yet? If so, congrats on making it through! If not, keep your head up, and soon you'll be exactly where you need to be. :luck:

nice explanation, that was very helpful :thumbup:
 
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Others have told me that they find med school very challenging and time consuming, that it is actually heavier than undergrad and that they find themselves having to study everyday.

Anyone who says it isn't more work than undergrad either is one of the rare individuals with a one pass memory, or had the worst undergrad experience I've ever heard of. The vast majority of med students would agree that there is more work in med school than undergrad, I think. Not substantively harder, but you cover a whole lot more material. I can also tell you it is a whole lot more work than law school, albeit quite different.

You need to focus in on the "once in a while" portion of your quote -- that is key. In college you go out a whole lot more than "once and a while". Also watch out -- some people will tell you they hardly do any work, but they are often closet gunners who study 12 hours a day yet tell people they did nothing just to sound "cool".
 
Hey xylem,

To answer your main question, different med students study they way they study for both reasons. There's not an importance placed on one factor (i.e. that's how their study habits are) over the other (i.e. they are or aren't aiming for a top residency/specialty). Well, not in general anyway. Most certainly, you will find individual differences, because as with any group of people, it's difficult to generalize.

One thing is that the majority of M1's have no idea what they want to go into, and most of the ones that say they DO will probably change their minds by the time 4th year rolls around. Given that, most people study with these things in mind: just enough to pass (or high pass, or honor, depending on their standards) their classes and, most importantly, to understand the material well enough for boards...rather than "I'm going to study hardcore because I want such-and-such residency" right off the bat. My feeling is that you'll find the latter mentality in the students while they're studying for Step 1 since much more emphasis is placed on your board scores than your pre-clinical grades when you apply for residency. In fact, this is a more sensible approach for most people, in my opinion. You don't want to burn out before it really starts to matter. Don't get me wrong though, I don't think it's any smarter to just coast through and "barely pass" either. You never know what you might want to end up doing, so don't develop any study habits that will make you look back and go, "Hmm I wish I tried a little harder, I really really like [insert competitive specialty here]" in your 3rd or 4th year. Do your best. (I know, boring and cliche, but ehh, it's all I got :laugh: )

I say, let the gunners gun. Their dedication will make them brilliant doctors one day. I respect that they have such lofty ambitions and I'm impressed by their sheer willpower. I have nothing against them, unless they're competitive dinguses who are just out to get me. But if you know you can't make yourself study THAT HARD ALL THE TIME (it's really difficult to do that, believe me), then why not give yourself a break every now and then (or more often than that, again depending on the standards you set for yourself)? Just make sure you step it up when you study for Step 1, when you really do have to study that hard. The whole time.

Good luck with the application process! It's a real bitch, I know. Have you gotten in anywhere yet? If so, congrats on making it through! If not, keep your head up, and soon you'll be exactly where you need to be. :luck:

Awesomely put.

Anyone who says it isn't more work than undergrad either is one of the rare individuals with a one pass memory, or had the worst undergrad experience I've ever heard of. The vast majority of med students would agree that there is more work in med school than undergrad, I think. Not substantively harder, but you cover a whole lot more material. I can also tell you it is a whole lot more work than law school, albeit quite different.

You need to focus in on the "once in a while" portion of your quote -- that is key. In college you go out a whole lot more than "once and a while". Also watch out -- some people will tell you they hardly do any work, but they are often closet gunners who study 12 hours a day yet tell people they did nothing just to sound "cool".

It's interesting to me that you found law school to be a lot less work than medicine. Granted, I know nothing as far as firsthand experience with either, but interesting nonetheless.

So far, it seems like the only real consensus with medical school is that it's very much YMMV, like just about everything else; hard, maybe, but significantly harder for some.
 

Law2Doc

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It's interesting to me that you found law school to be a lot less work than medicine. Granted, I know nothing as far as firsthand experience with either, but interesting nonetheless.

The biggest differences were that in law school you do a lot more writing, and it was possible to get to a point in your studies where you felt you pretty much had looked at everything you needed to look at before the test -- you never get this feeling in med school in my experience -- there is always something else you would love to have spent time on had you any more time. You also have freer weekends in law school. But I agree, in med school experiences vary with the person far more than the career goal.

But I still don't think OP is looking at it right if he's going into med school thinking that (based on some questionable advice), it might end up being less work than college. Many schools don't let you coast to a Pass -- most folks will be putting in significant hours just to stay afloat. The small handful of schools that never fail anyone in a course are the exception rather than the rule in med school.
 

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Anyone who says it isn't more work than undergrad either is one of the rare individuals with a one pass memory, or had the worst undergrad experience I've ever heard of.

I have heard some students who went to Caltech/MIT for undergrad say that they found undergrad more work than medical school. I don't think these students necessarily had a horrible undergrad experiences, just very challenging ones.

Anyway, some students might be able to coast by and do very little work. How much time a person puts into studying depends on how quickly the person learns and how well they want to learn the material. Hopefully many (most?) med students want to learn the material well so they can better help their future patients, but maybe I'm overly idealistic. :)
 

xylem29

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Then again - either most people are liars and are closet SDN-ophiles, or that the majority of people that I've met on the interview trail HATE SDN...I love SDN! Obviously.

To Law2Doc - nah, I'm not really looking at it from any persepctive as if I'm trying to figure anything out. I plan on doing the best that I can once in med school, and since I'm a regular SDNer, well...I guess nothing needs to be said about my attitude towards studying :oops:
 

xylem29

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I have heard some students who went to Caltech/MIT for undergrad say that they found undergrad more work than medical school. I don't think these students necessarily had a horrible undergrad experiences, just very challenging ones.

Anyway, some students might be able to coast by and do very little work. How much time a person puts into studying depends on how quickly the person learns and how well they want to learn the material. Hopefully many (most?) med students want to learn the material well so they can better help their future patients, but maybe I'm overly idealistic. :)


:thumbup:

You gotta know your **** - there is no doubt about that.
 

Law2Doc

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Hopefully many (most?) med students want to learn the material well so they can better help their future patients, but maybe I'm overly idealistic. :)

While your attitude is a good one, it's easy to lose sight of the forrest for the trees in med school. Much of the basic science years is merely foundation on which you will build your subsequent clinical knowledge, so it at times will seem fairly far afield from something you can actually use to help patients (depending on your desired specialty). There will be large segments of the student body who merely want to get through this stuff to get to what they perceive as the "good stuff".
 
W

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Most of the fine detail is just there to separate those who study hard from those who don't. Most of what you learn will not be recalled as a physician, and the best doctors learn the trade from experience rather than rote memory. That's why the training takes so long.

As far as the concepts go, I already had them before starting med school save for about half of the anatomy/embryo and the majority of the neuroscience stuff (i.e. what I consider to be boring anyway). This makes me more lazy than anything else, and I am resultantly below average on exams compared to my classmates. As has been said before, med school is only about where you finish knowledge-wise and has nothing to do with where you began.

I don't think that people intentionally ignore material because they don't want to go into a competative specialty. In my case, M1 material isn't high yield enough to interest me for step 1, so I don't see why I should stress myself out about it.

Most of the people who are frazzled over the workload either have competative personalities in general or really didn't understand what they would be required to know before they were admitted. I don't really think that it has much to do with specialty choice.
 

PoorMD

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While your attitude is a good one, it's easy to lose sight of the forrest for the trees in med school. Much of the basic science years is merely foundation on which you will build your subsequent clinical knowledge, so it at times will seem fairly far afield from something you can actually use to help patients (depending on your desired specialty). There will be large segments of the student body who merely want to get through this stuff to get to what they perceive as the "good stuff".


In medicine you will find lots of material that you won't find interesting, which makes it much harder to study.. I personally could not stand the subject of cytogenetics and all that mendelian inheritance... On the other hand, while reading endocrine pathophysiology I found myself turning pages out of literal anticipation, not just necessity. So you will find your special favorite topics, and you can ace those.. Just keep up the work on the other stuff you don't find quite as interesting- sadly thats what makes or breaks your grade.

As for how MUCH or how many HOURS to study, its all relative. To put it in perspective, we had an exam in one of our smaller classes last week. I studied for 2 hours the day before and 4 hours the day of the exam, score a 90% (yipee!). My friend and classmate put in an entire weekend of reading and note memorizing, got a 80% on the same exam. This is not to say I am smarter or anything, it just shows that some topics come faster to certain people. That same classmate showed me up on the next exam, grades were reversed :p So nothing is constant or set in stone with medical school.
 

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"It's pretty easy to pass in medical school" means that you don't have to worry about if you put the time in, not that you don't have to put the time in. Most of the people who overstudy don't do it because they're gunning for a residency, that's too far away. Most of them do it because they have no lives and find their meaning in their school/work. These are the people that would still work 80 hours a week if all doctors worked 40 simply because (I guess) there's not much else for them when they go home.

Me, I'm like the guy in office space. A day where I do nothing could well be the greatest day of my life. This makes me a much happier human being but has the downside of meaning that 80 hour weeks actually cost me something, unlike those classmates. :p
 
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From my interviews, I've noticed that there are differing opinions about how heavy the work load is in med school - some students have told me that it's not that bad and that they have lots of time to do other things - these students are involved in multiple EC activities. Others have told me that they find med school very challenging and time consuming, that it is actually heavier than undergrad and that they find themselves having to study everyday.

I don't think that it has anything to do with career choice. Most 1st and 2nd years aren't terribly worried about what specialty they'll do.

As far as how much study time is required, people who need a lot of study time tend to fall in a few different categories:
1) Some people have a hard time memorizing facts in a vacuum. It takes a lot of repetition for the material to stick.

2) Some people are very slow studiers. One of my friends is a very, very slow reader. He's not dyslexic, and he's got a good memory, but it takes him forever to work his way through a syllabus or a textbook.

3) Some people can't realize what's important stuff for the exam, so they get lost in useless minutiae.

4) Some people are very inefficient studiers. As an analogy...do you know those guys who are in great physical condition, even though they only work out for 1/2 an hour per day? If you followed these guys around the gym, it would be the most efficient, effective half hour imaginable, without a single wasted second. Some med students study like this - very efficiently.

Then, there are those people who are chubby and flabby, even though they claim to work out for 2-3 hours a day. If you followed these guys around the gym, you'd see that they s-l-o-w-l-y move from machine to machine, only lift light weights, and stroll on the treadmill (instead of run). Some people study like this - yeah, they spend 7 hours in the library. But 2 hours was spent on AIM, 1 hour was spent reading their college roommate's blog, 1 hour was spent surfing YouTube, half an hour was spent flirting with the library aide, and 15 minutes was spent staring off into space, daydreaming. So, really, they didn't do that much work, but they did spend a lot of time in the library.

I wouldn't think too much about how much people say they study - it rarely means anything, especially when it comes to residency choice.
 

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FWIW, I think the material in med school is not as difficult as some undergrad courses (advanced physics & math come to mind for me). Maybe it's just that I have had generally good professors in med school, but the concepts have pretty much been not that tough to understand. However, the sheer volume of material you have to learn is way more than undergrad. Those people that can process huge volumes of information rapidly (and retain it) have an advantage over those of us who just take longer to absorb things. I study a lot not because I'm gunning for a competitive residency (I have no idea right now what I want to do!), but because it just takes me a bit longer to process the information.
 

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I don't think that it has anything to do with career choice. Most 1st and 2nd years aren't terribly worried about what specialty they'll do.

As far as how much study time is required, people who need a lot of study time tend to fall in a few different categories:
1) Some people have a hard time memorizing facts in a vacuum. It takes a lot of repetition for the material to stick.

2) Some people are very slow studiers. One of my friends is a very, very slow reader. He's not dyslexic, and he's got a good memory, but it takes him forever to work his way through a syllabus or a textbook.

3) Some people can't realize what's important stuff for the exam, so they get lost in useless minutiae.

4) Some people are very inefficient studiers. As an analogy...do you know those guys who are in great physical condition, even though they only work out for 1/2 an hour per day? If you followed these guys around the gym, it would be the most efficient, effective half hour imaginable, without a single wasted second. Some med students study like this - very efficiently.

Then, there are those people who are chubby and flabby, even though they claim to work out for 2-3 hours a day. If you followed these guys around the gym, you'd see that they s-l-o-w-l-y move from machine to machine, only lift light weights, and stroll on the treadmill (instead of run). Some people study like this - yeah, they spend 7 hours in the library. But 2 hours was spent on AIM, 1 hour was spent reading their college roommate's blog, 1 hour was spent surfing YouTube, half an hour was spent flirting with the library aide, and 15 minutes was spent staring off into space, daydreaming. So, really, they didn't do that much work, but they did spend a lot of time in the library.

I wouldn't think too much about how much people say they study - it rarely means anything, especially when it comes to residency choice.

Yeah, you've got it. 3 and 4 seem to be especially common amongst people who say they study all the time.

As for the studying all the time thing, one problem is that it's hard to clarify what that means. I don't think I study all the time. I think I study a good amount, but I also spend lots of time not studying. Lots of people who study the same amount as me might report that they have no life and "study all the time."
 

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Yea, I'm the type that studies a lot, and I don't like it when ppl accuse me of having no life - it irks me to no end. So I guess I was looking to see if it can be justified - but I should have known this all along - some ppl need to study a lot, some don't --> end of story.

I must ask this as well - for those who study a lot in med school, do you feel there is enough time to be on two or more student clubs + 1 community/volunteering EC + "hobbies" EC's??

I mean, I'm not the greatest at balancing my time, and with my study habits - I'm looking to be part of ONE student club + hobbies EC's (like gym, sports), and that's about it...is this good enough? I would then look to do my volunteering/community work during the summer months while I do research....I'm just not the type that can be involved in too many things while maintaing good grades - I didn't do this during premed either. It's not that I don't enjoy doing these things, but I can't find the time...so my volunteering has usually been done during the summer in undergrad.
 

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I must ask this as well - for those who study a lot in med school, do you feel there is enough time to be on two or more student clubs + 1 community/volunteering EC + "hobbies" EC's??
.

Most people I know who fall under the "heavy studiers" category participated in more than one student club and still managed to work out/ go to the gym...think of it this way...you need to put something on your resume when you're applying for residencies other than "attended medical school." Boring! Everyone else in your position did that, too. Do something in a leadership position, be active in a club, do a research project.

As far as the difficulty of medical school, the way I look at it is this- my school considers 15 credits per term to be "full time" for undergraduate students. As a Med-1, I took 32 credits each term. Therefore I was billed for double the workload of an undergraduate student and would suspect I spent at least twice as much time in classes and probably studied at least twice as hard....however, my undergrad degree was a B.A. so I had to do a lot more paper writing/research/reading for my classes...and I found med school was much more about exams/practicals which is an entirely different way of studying/being efficient.
 

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Most peopleyou need to put something on your resume when you're applying for residencies other than "attended medical school." Boring! Everyone else in your position did that, too. Do something in a leadership position, be active in a club, do a research project.

Sure, anyone can run a club . . . but not everyone can score a 270 step I.

I think research matters too.

EC's are only for things you are really interested in for you. Not for your CV. (Yes, I do some EC's, but only stuff I'd do anyway).
 

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Sure, anyone can run a club . . . but not everyone can score a 270 step I.

I think research matters too.

EC's are only for things you are really interested in for you. Not for your CV. (Yes, I do some EC's, but only stuff I'd do anyway).

Yes, these things are critical in getting the residency of your choice. However, the point ot the thread is about studying-->Step I score

Lets assume someone who wants an highly competative residency studies a lot, does well in class, and scores highly on Step I. Would you not also assume they aren't volunteering at the Boy's and Girl's Club, fetching groceries for the neighborhood elderly associatoin, and also organizing the community holiday calendar?

Exactly, the kind of people who naturally seek the most compatative fields are the most competative. Never, ever be surprised when you meet someone from somewhere else who "shows you up" because you are comfortable with what you are acclimated to.. The rest of the country pursuing your field may be far ahead of you and you are using your classmates as a yardstick.
 

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Hey xylem,

To answer your main question, different med students study they way they study for both reasons. There's not an importance placed on one factor (i.e. that's how their study habits are) over the other (i.e. they are or aren't aiming for a top residency/specialty). Well, not in general anyway. Most certainly, you will find individual differences, because as with any group of people, it's difficult to generalize.

One thing is that the majority of M1's have no idea what they want to go into, and most of the ones that say they DO will probably change their minds by the time 4th year rolls around. Given that, most people study with these things in mind: just enough to pass (or high pass, or honor, depending on their standards) their classes and, most importantly, to understand the material well enough for boards...rather than "I'm going to study hardcore because I want such-and-such residency" right off the bat. My feeling is that you'll find the latter mentality in the students while they're studying for Step 1 since much more emphasis is placed on your board scores than your pre-clinical grades when you apply for residency. In fact, this is a more sensible approach for most people, in my opinion. You don't want to burn out before it really starts to matter. Don't get me wrong though, I don't think it's any smarter to just coast through and "barely pass" either. You never know what you might want to end up doing, so don't develop any study habits that will make you look back and go, "Hmm I wish I tried a little harder, I really really like [insert competitive specialty here]" in your 3rd or 4th year. Do your best. (I know, boring and cliche, but ehh, it's all I got :laugh: )

I say, let the gunners gun. Their dedication will make them brilliant doctors one day. I respect that they have such lofty ambitions and I'm impressed by their sheer willpower. I have nothing against them, unless they're competitive dinguses who are just out to get me. But if you know you can't make yourself study THAT HARD ALL THE TIME (it's really difficult to do that, believe me), then why not give yourself a break every now and then (or more often than that, again depending on the standards you set for yourself)? Just make sure you step it up when you study for Step 1, when you really do have to study that hard. The whole time.

Good luck with the application process! It's a real bitch, I know. Have you gotten in anywhere yet? If so, congrats on making it through! If not, keep your head up, and soon you'll be exactly where you need to be. :luck:
:thumbup: :thumbup:
 
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Law2Doc

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I don't think that it has anything to do with career choice. Most 1st and 2nd years aren't terribly worried about what specialty they'll do.

As far as how much study time is required, people who need a lot of study time tend to fall in a few different categories:
1) Some people have a hard time memorizing facts in a vacuum. It takes a lot of repetition for the material to stick.

2) Some people are very slow studiers. One of my friends is a very, very slow reader. He's not dyslexic, and he's got a good memory, but it takes him forever to work his way through a syllabus or a textbook.

3) Some people can't realize what's important stuff for the exam, so they get lost in useless minutiae.

4) Some people are very inefficient studiers. As an analogy...do you know those guys who are in great physical condition, even though they only work out for 1/2 an hour per day? If you followed these guys around the gym, it would be the most efficient, effective half hour imaginable, without a single wasted second. Some med students study like this - very efficiently.

Then, there are those people who are chubby and flabby, even though they claim to work out for 2-3 hours a day. If you followed these guys around the gym, you'd see that they s-l-o-w-l-y move from machine to machine, only lift light weights, and stroll on the treadmill (instead of run). Some people study like this - yeah, they spend 7 hours in the library. But 2 hours was spent on AIM, 1 hour was spent reading their college roommate's blog, 1 hour was spent surfing YouTube, half an hour was spent flirting with the library aide, and 15 minutes was spent staring off into space, daydreaming. So, really, they didn't do that much work, but they did spend a lot of time in the library.

I wouldn't think too much about how much people say they study - it rarely means anything, especially when it comes to residency choice.


I would say better than 90% of the med students I have met somewhat fall within one of these categories, with an emphasis on 1 and 4. Which is a big part of why med school is going to be more work than college for most. What worked in college tends not to work as well in med school and so people flail around until they find a study methodology that gets them adequate grades, and they tend to stick to what works until it doesn't, even if it's not the most efficient -- bailing out a leaky row boat is better than drowning.

It's easy to say you are going to figure out how to study smart or more efficiently, but it tends to take a lot of experimentation and risk of test grades, and after you get burned once after trying one variation of study habits you tend to go back to what worked even if it's a time killer.
 

veenut

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Efficient studying is really the key to all this, as other people have mentioned. I probably spent twice as much time studying at the beginning of last semester than at the end, but did much better on my last exam than the first. I think a lot of med students spend WAY too much time "studying" things that either aren't important or just go about studying in a way that makes the material not stick. Med school is memorization, pure and simple...there's just no way around that. So reading through the material a few times to try to understand it is going to be low-yield. On the other hand, making stupid mnemonics (which I don't like to do) or just repeating every stupid little fact to yourself out loud (which is what I do) will make the information stick so that you can regurgitate it out for the exam and then forget about it completely. There are some 1st year courses - physiology for example - where understanding the material is important. For the rest, regurgitate, then rinse and repeat.
 

PoorMD

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Efficient studying is really the key to all this, as other people have mentioned. I probably spent twice as much time studying at the beginning of last semester than at the end, but did much better on my last exam than the first. I think a lot of med students spend WAY too much time "studying" things that either aren't important or just go about studying in a way that makes the material not stick. Med school is memorization, pure and simple...there's just no way around that. So reading through the material a few times to try to understand it is going to be low-yield. On the other hand, making stupid mnemonics (which I don't like to do) or just repeating every stupid little fact to yourself out loud (which is what I do) will make the information stick so that you can regurgitate it out for the exam and then forget about it completely. There are some 1st year courses - physiology for example - where understanding the material is important. For the rest, regurgitate, then rinse and repeat.

:thumbup: exactly
unfortunately its true. In undergrad i studied chemical engineering, which was the complete opposite, i.e. needed to know the fundamental equations, application of those equations, interpretation etc etc.
in med school, i just memorize buzz words and try to relate them to something clinical. for example psammoma bodies are in serous tumors.. how did i memorize this? psammoma is pronounced sammoma, which begins with an S, just like Serous... pretty lame, right? sadly it works
 

xylem29

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So it's all about memorization?

Many have mentioned that students spend time studying things that are useless or low yield.

Will it be easy or difficult to figure out the high yield from the low yield stuff? What are some efficient ways to study in med school, or is this dependant on the individual?
 
in med school, i just memorize buzz words and try to relate them to something clinical. for example psammoma bodies are in serous tumors.. how did i memorize this? psammoma is pronounced sammoma, which begins with an S, just like Serous... pretty lame, right? sadly it works

I do stuff like that all the time. Reminds me of knowing what an anion and cation are from high school chemistry: cation has a "t," which looks a bit like a cross, which looks like a plus sign, which is used to denote positive charges. :thumbup: :laugh:
 

cwb

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I think that medical school is the first place where people really start to recognize their strengths and weaknesses... In my mind pretty much everyone who got into medical school was always looked upon as someone who was 1. really good at memorizing 2. always understood the material 3. studied less than other people and did better (now not everyone may be like this but judging from what I've heard/experienced this seems to be kind of a trend). Now suddenly you're thrown in with hundreds of the smartest people you know - people who may be way better than you at one or all of these things... It doesn't mean you're stupid, it simply means that they are incredibly smart. I would say in my class there are probably about 10% of the class that can honestly treat medical school as a joke - everyone else is studying their asses off. As for me, I was an engineer in undergrad - it takes me an eternity to memorize stuff but once I do I understand and can apply the material much better than most, vice-versa with some of my friends and that shows because we basically flip-flop doing great/OK on tests.
 

SelflessAct

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So it's all about memorization?

Many have mentioned that students spend time studying things that are useless or low yield.

Will it be easy or difficult to figure out the high yield from the low yield stuff? What are some efficient ways to study in med school, or is this dependant on the individual?

The majority of your first year will be spent figuring out how to distinguish high-yield info from low-yield. It can be hard, but as long as you're persistent about figuring it out and don't get too discouraged, you will get it (I'm almost there, I think...I hope...:oops: ). A good way to do this is to supplement your studying with First Aid for the USMLE Step 1 or a similar book starting in your first year.

You'll probably spend your whole second year perfecting this skill, which will be very useful by the time you get to Step 1 season.

As far as efficient study techniques...well...I don't know how much help that would be for you at this point. The honest truth is that you really won't know until you get there and are in the thick of things. It's a lot of trial and error to figure out what works for you, and no doubt you will probably have to make some big changes in your study habits (most people do). You'll try a lot of things. Only a small percentage "get it" right from the start, and I'd venture to say it's only because most of them are post-grads and have been in other types of schooling far longer than you, long enough to know what works for them. I don't want to sit here and list all the things you could do cause frankly that's just exhausting and will not be much help to you (See? This would be "low-yield" in this situation :)) Besides, other people on this thread have already listed quite a few good techniques.

Cross that bridge when you get to it! :rolleyes: ;)
 

humuhumu

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4) Some people are very inefficient studiers. As an analogy...do you know those guys who are in great physical condition, even though they only work out for 1/2 an hour per day? If you followed these guys around the gym, it would be the most efficient, effective half hour imaginable, without a single wasted second. Some med students study like this - very efficiently.

Then, there are those people who are chubby and flabby, even though they claim to work out for 2-3 hours a day. If you followed these guys around the gym, you'd see that they s-l-o-w-l-y move from machine to machine, only lift light weights, and stroll on the treadmill (instead of run). Some people study like this - yeah, they spend 7 hours in the library. But 2 hours was spent on AIM, 1 hour was spent reading their college roommate's blog, 1 hour was spent surfing YouTube, half an hour was spent flirting with the library aide, and 15 minutes was spent staring off into space, daydreaming. So, really, they didn't do that much work, but they did spend a lot of time in the library.

:laugh: I love this analogy!
 
W

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So it's all about memorization?

Many have mentioned that students spend time studying things that are useless or low yield.

Will it be easy or difficult to figure out the high yield from the low yield stuff? What are some efficient ways to study in med school, or is this dependant on the individual?

Ding Ding. :thumbup: You'll figure it out after you get slammed on an exam or two.
 

vtucci

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Awesomely put.



It's interesting to me that you found law school to be a lot less work than medicine. Granted, I know nothing as far as firsthand experience with either, but interesting nonetheless.

So far, it seems like the only real consensus with medical school is that it's very much YMMV, like just about everything else; hard, maybe, but significantly harder for some.

Law2doc is absolutely right. Law school was laughable compared to medical school.
 

ranmyaku

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I have heard some students who went to Caltech/MIT for undergrad say that they found undergrad more work than medical school. I don't think these students necessarily had a horrible undergrad experiences, just very challenging ones.

Anyway, some students might be able to coast by and do very little work. How much time a person puts into studying depends on how quickly the person learns and how well they want to learn the material. Hopefully many (most?) med students want to learn the material well so they can better help their future patients, but maybe I'm overly idealistic. :)


You are correct. Undergrad was a lot harder than Med School in my opinion. I had a great undergrad experience too.
 
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