frustratedmed

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I've gotten off to a really rough start with med school and I'm failing all but one class. My trouble has mainly stemmed from one class. I put so much time towards this class at the detriment of my other classes. But overall first block, I didn't study as much, second block I went through the material too slowly and couldn't review as much as I liked. Second block went better than first block but it wasn't good enough because I did so poorly in the first block. Now we're at third block. If I don't excel, (i.e. honor every exam except for the one I'm actually passing) then I face either repeating the first year or dismissal depending on a couple of factors like how many classes I fail.

I've been presented with the option of splitting my first year into two. This would withdraw me from 2 classes that I'm enrolled in and from here on out I'd only take half the load of the first year spread over two. I really don't want to do this. However, I feel that this minimizes my risk of failing. I feel that this is the safest route.

I have met with counselors and administrators at the school and am currently doing some testing to find out what the problem is and what type of learner I am so that I can avoid a repeat of this semester.

Question is, will splitting my year significantly affect residency apps if I use the extra time to (1) attempt to excel in my studies (2) become really active in research, rounding, etc. (3) have a good second thru 4th year

Will residency directors frown on a split first year? If I split the year, it will not indicate that I was failing or having academic difficulty.

Edit: I should add that all of my classes are still passable. But this isn't undergrad where you can say, ok.. I'll make a 100 on the next two exams. I actually need to average about a 88 to 90 on my last block exams and finals to pass the courses that I'm struggling with. This is why I'm thinking that splitting the year is the best option.
 
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sylvanthus

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"If I don't excel, (i.e. honor every exam except for the one I'm actually passing) then I face either repeating the first year or dismissal depending on a couple of factors like how many classes I fail. "

This is a ton of pressure and the potential adverse effects are serious, so I would try and split the first two years. It will effect your residency application as somewhere on your application you are asked if it took you longer than 4 years to graduate and why (if i rememeber right).

But, running the risk of failing and being forced to repeat the year or even being dismissed is just not worth the risk in my opinion. So, if I were in your shoes I would likely split the first year.
 

sunset823

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Definitely do the deceleration program. My school had that option first year, and it really can be a saving grace. Do not count on yourself being able to make up all the points in all the classes, my school had multiple courses simultaneously and I very often found myself triaging (I safely passed everything, but by the end of the year I was ignoring certain classes while cramming for others, which reflected poorly in my final grades for those exams). I hate doing that, but it's a fact of life in med school, there's just too much information and not enough time to process everything.

I believe one of the deans has done research finding that people who decelerate will do much better on Step 1 and graduate on time than people who fail the first year and repeat. And any effect on residencies will be minor, if at all. I'm pretty sure that all the residencies will see is that you passed everything, not the initial failures. Sure, stuff like derm, where you have plenty of candidates who were 250+ on Step 1, may be out, but I think really the whole gamut is open to you IF you use this extra time to investigate and improve your study habits. M2 year is really really rough, even if you barely pass M1 you won't make it through the second year until you really know yourself and how you can succeed.

So in summary: Please do the decelerated option, it is the best (and probably at this point only) option for you.
 

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I'll make a 100 on the next two exams. I actually need to average about a 88 to 90 on my last block exams and finals to pass the courses that I'm struggling with. This is why I'm thinking that splitting the year is the best option.

Its a no brainer - go to the 5-year plan. Failing will have disatrous consequences on your transcript. A withdrawl at least gives you a chance to explain your circumstances and only disqualifies you from the most competetive specialties.

When it comes to exams I've found history counts for a lot. Its unrealistic to think that you're going to put up a series of 100s on short notice when the effort you've been making has yielded less. Another thing I've learned is that M1 and M2 are as much challenges of time-management and study efficiency as they are intelligence. Save what you can, let the rest go, recover and come back with some Hs on a reduced schedule IMO. Good luck!
 

Parietal Lobe

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I believe one of the deans has done research finding that people who decelerate will do much better on Step 1 and graduate on time than people who fail the first year and repeat.
How do they graduate on time if they decelerate M1?
 
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frustratedmed

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Thanks so much guys for your insight. I'm going to go in tomorrow morning and sign the paperwork. You all are right, what's more important right now is to not fail and to accomplish my goal of becoming a physician. I think that trying to pass these classes at the rate that I'm going is too much pressure. As mentioned above, the consequences of failing are dire and it's more important that I make the best of the situation that I find myself in... which is to pinpoint the problem, figure out the way to study this volume of material efficiently, do well in my classes, and make the most out of the extra time by doing things like research, rounding, medical mission work, building a network, etc. My situation sucks and I did so well in undergrad so I don't understand why this is happening but I'm glad I have the option at least.

Thanks so much guys. Your input is greatly appreciated.
 

sunset823

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How do they graduate on time if they decelerate M1?
I meant graduating in five years - you will have two years for M1 either way between decelerating and failing your first year, but with the latter, they are much more likely to have to drop out in subsequent years, versus many of the decelerated people found success in their M2-M4 years.

Here's the article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15943876
 

swamprat

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Yeah do the decelerated program.. and btw idk how your school works but at mine if you decide to do that program your not allowed to hold a job or do research because the idea of the whole program is that you need more time learn things and get your **** together.
 

MedStudentWanna

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My school doesn't offer the decelerated option. I always wondered how it works. Do you just take half the classes with the c/o 2014 in first year and then next year, you take the remainder of the classes (the ones you didn't take this year) with the c/o 2015? Or is it independent study with the 1st year curriculum just taking you two years to work through?
 
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frustratedmed

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I meant graduating in five years - you will have two years for M1 either way between decelerating and failing your first year, but with the latter, they are much more likely to have to drop out in subsequent years, versus many of the decelerated people found success in their M2-M4 years.

Here's the article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15943876
Thanks for the article... it's really insightful!
 
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frustratedmed

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My school doesn't offer the decelerated option. I always wondered how it works. Do you just take half the classes with the c/o 2014 in first year and then next year, you take the remainder of the classes (the ones you didn't take this year) with the c/o 2015? Or is it independent study with the 1st year curriculum just taking you two years to work through?
That's exactly how it works. I choose which classes to keep this semester and which classes to take next semester. I'll take the classes that I keep this school year with my current class. Then next year, I'll take the classes that I didn't take this year with the 2015 class. After that, I'll move on to second year with the c/o 2015 and back into the regular curriculum.
 
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frustratedmed

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Yeah do the decelerated program.. and btw idk how your school works but at mine if you decide to do that program your not allowed to hold a job or do research because the idea of the whole program is that you need more time learn things and get your **** together.
You're probably right about the research thing. I guess I'll ask about it when I sign the paperwork in the morning. I don't mean like hard core reseach during the school year though.. I'm thinking more along the lines of summer research. Before this, I had no plans of doing so because I have plenty of research experience prior to entering. But now, since I'll have two M1 summers, I figured that I may as well get on a good summer research project.
 

CBG23

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I wish my school had the option to decelerate - it would have helped me a ton
 

hot sauce

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Question is, will splitting my year significantly affect residency apps if I use the extra time to (1) attempt to excel in my studies (2) become really active in research, rounding, etc. (3) have a good second thru 4th year

Will residency directors frown on a split first year? If I split the year, it will not indicate that I was failing or having academic difficulty.
I agree with other posters that splitting sounds like the best option. I just wanted to give you heads up that there is a question on ERAS that asks something about if you extended medical school and why so you will need to explain it. Having said that I don't think it will be devastating particularly if you are strong throughout the rest of your medical school career but may be a little ding if you are looking to apply to a highly competitive field.
 

sylvanthus

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Hang in there man! Let us know how things go and if you need help sometime, feel free to shoot me a message.
 
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frustratedmed

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Thanks for the support and encouragement. It's official, I signed the paperwork. I'm all over the place emotionally, but it's what had to be done. I'd much rather explain why I extended my studies than explain why I failed, or had to repeat the year... or even worse, be one of the unfortunate students dismissed and trying to figure out what to do with my life. I just have to accept where I am now, pick up the pieces, and move on.
 

swamprat

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Thanks for the support and encouragement. It's official, I signed the paperwork. I'm all over the place emotionally, but it's what had to be done. I'd much rather explain why I extended my studies than explain why I failed, or had to repeat the year... or even worse, be one of the unfortunate students dismissed and trying to figure out what to do with my life. I just have to accept where I am now, pick up the pieces, and move on.
Good luck, keep us updated with how things go? So what classes are you taking this year and which ones are you deferring until next year
 
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frustratedmed

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I dropped Anatomy, the problem course that took the casualties of my other courses, and embryology (collateral damage from Anatomy) LoL. I kept Biochem and Cell Biology. I haven't decided on next semester yet. I have to choose two from Neuroscience, Pathophysiology, Microbiology, and Immunology.

I'm still trying to tweak my studies. When I was in undergrad, I excelled by taking good notes, going home and organizing and rewriting those notes and studying my notes thoroughly. I was able to accomplish studying with ease and by the time tests came around, I could recite my notes. I changed that up when I started med school because there's so much material that I thought it would be too time consuming. But I'm finding that it's the best way for me to learn. So I started this weekend condensing and rewriting/reorganizing Biochem, and I can now recite from memory the 30 pages that I condensed down to 8. However, I'm afraid that now that I have the time this is feasible. What happens second year when I'm on a full load again? Is it realistic to rewrite/condense on a full load? Our lecture notes are highly disorganized and some aren't very thorough and while studying for the first two blocks, I found myself having to use multiple texts and google/wiki to get through the material.

It's imperative that I figure out how to study this material and make the most effective and efficient use of my study time.

Any suggestions? I have to get this figured out!

Thanks again guys.
 

ucsfstudents

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I think the 5 year plan was the right decision. I would also advise to go with what has worked for you in the past. But also note that different subjects will require slightly different approaches to learning the material. For example, in anatomy and pharmacology, you will need to focus on recall, whereas for physiology and immunology, you might be more focused on understanding concepts, making connections, and application of the material. Good luck.
 
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frustratedmed

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Just thought I'd give an update for all of those who encouraged me to do the five year track. As mentioned before, I moved to the track last month and was quite depressed about it for about 2 weeks. It just does you in psychologically. Going from a 4.0 undergrad to failing in med school. Anyhow, I got over myself and changed up my study techniques and hauled @ss for the remaining classes and I'm happy to say that I've survived the semester. Since i'm on half the load, I'm done with finals and everything today. I went into the Biochem block III exam last week with a 50 average... yes, I know it's embarrassing but it's unfortunately true. I ended up with a 98 on my block III exam, only missing one out of 50 questions and it was one that I legitimately did not know or study. Cell Bio, I was passing but I was able to secure an honors in that class only missing 3 on a 75 question exam and also acing the final. As for the Biochem final, it was a shelf. I have no clue how I did, but hopefully I passed. If changing my schedule to half the load was worth anything, it was worth knowing that I'm still capable of doing well and still capable of making a decent grade in a class. Thanks guys for your encouragement and advice. I have a feeling that if I tried to tough it out and struggled to stay on the full load, I'd have a completely different and sad story right now.
 

ama75

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It's imperative that I figure out how to study this material and make the most effective and efficient use of my study time.

Any suggestions? I have to get this figured out!

Thanks again guys.
I use a stopwatch when I'm studying. The watch runs only when I'm actually focusing. I stop the watch whenever I break my focus to do anything non-academic (e.g. getting a drink of water, going on the internet, texting, whatever). In effect, the stopwatch tells me how much time I actually spent focusing in a given day. If you make note of when you start studying and when you stop for the day, you can figure out how efficient you were and set goals accordingly. I guarantee that you'll be shocked by how much time you waste. The first time I studied this way I sat for 8 hours, but only focused for 3.5 (according to the stopwatch). If you're diligent about using the watch, your efficiency will improve and you'll derive a more concrete sense of accomplishment from your studying.
 

Zarika

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I use a stopwatch when I'm studying. The watch runs only when I'm actually focusing. I stop the watch whenever I break my focus to do anything non-academic (e.g. getting a drink of water, going on the internet, texting, whatever). In effect, the stopwatch tells me how much time I actually spent focusing in a given day. If you make note of when you start studying and when you stop for the day, you can figure out how efficient you were and set goals accordingly. I guarantee that you'll be shocked by how much time you waste. The first time I studied this way I sat for 8 hours, but only focused for 3.5 (according to the stopwatch). If you're diligent about using the watch, your efficiency will improve and you'll derive a more concrete sense of accomplishment from your studying.
This is a great idea that I'm going to try. Thanks so much! Lately I've been spending tons of time "studying" but a lot of that is being bored and screwing around online or on my phone (like right now). Maybe the stopwatch will make me focus when I have concrete evidence that I could study and then have time for other things.

Thanks!
 
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frustratedmed

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I use a stopwatch when I'm studying. The watch runs only when I'm actually focusing. I stop the watch whenever I break my focus to do anything non-academic (e.g. getting a drink of water, going on the internet, texting, whatever). In effect, the stopwatch tells me how much time I actually spent focusing in a given day. If you make note of when you start studying and when you stop for the day, you can figure out how efficient you were and set goals accordingly. I guarantee that you'll be shocked by how much time you waste. The first time I studied this way I sat for 8 hours, but only focused for 3.5 (according to the stopwatch). If you're diligent about using the watch, your efficiency will improve and you'll derive a more concrete sense of accomplishment from your studying.
This is excellent advice. Though I put in 12 hour study days, it would be really interesting to know how much time I screw off while studying. I'm pretty sure it's at least 3 hours.. but scared to find out that it might be more:scared:
 

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This is excellent advice. Though I put in 12 hour study days, it would be really interesting to know how much time I screw off while studying. I'm pretty sure it's at least 3 hours.. but scared to find out that it might be more:scared:

This is great advice and would be something that would inspire me to get an actual wristwatch.

:thumbup:
 
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frustratedmed

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bumping a really old thread to give an update. Last time I posted, I was a first year med student that wasn't doing so hot, struggling to decide whether or not to extend schooling by splitting the year so I wouldn't flunk out of med school. I ultimately decided after input from you lovely people at SDN to go forward with splitting the year. This was exactly what I needed to catch up and adjust to the load and improve my study habits. The rest of med school went smoothly. I did great on lecture exams but still struggled with standardized exams and got low but passing scores on my Step exams. I still got multiple interviews and went on the standard 10 for IM, half academic and half community. I ended up matching into a mid tier academic IM program and have just finished up intern year. Found out today that I passed step 3, albiet with a low score which doesn't really matter at this stage. Just want to give hope to some who may not have a smooth or straight forward road. I struggled, but didn't give up, kept working hard, and am getting there! Good luck to everyone in their endeavors and thanks to all of you that were there to offer sound and reasonable advice at my low point! Had I not listened, I would have a very different story to tell.
 

lymphocyte

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bumping a really old thread to give an update. Last time I posted, I was a first year med student that wasn't doing so hot, struggling to decide whether or not to extend schooling by splitting the year so I wouldn't flunk out of med school. I ultimately decided after input from you lovely people at SDN to go forward with splitting the year. This was exactly what I needed to catch up and adjust to the load and improve my study habits. The rest of med school went smoothly. I did great on lecture exams but still struggled with standardized exams and got low but passing scores on my Step exams. I still got multiple interviews and went on the standard 10 for IM, half academic and half community. I ended up matching into a mid tier academic IM program and have just finished up intern year. Found out today that I passed step 3, albiet with a low score which doesn't really matter at this stage. Just want to give hope to some who may not have a smooth or straight forward road. I struggled, but didn't give up, kept working hard, and am getting there! Good luck to everyone in their endeavors and thanks to all of you that were there to offer sound and reasonable advice at my low point! Had I not listened, I would have a very different story to tell.
Best post ever. Congratulations!!!
 
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bumping a really old thread to give an update. Last time I posted, I was a first year med student that wasn't doing so hot, struggling to decide whether or not to extend schooling by splitting the year so I wouldn't flunk out of med school. I ultimately decided after input from you lovely people at SDN to go forward with splitting the year. This was exactly what I needed to catch up and adjust to the load and improve my study habits. The rest of med school went smoothly. I did great on lecture exams but still struggled with standardized exams and got low but passing scores on my Step exams. I still got multiple interviews and went on the standard 10 for IM, half academic and half community. I ended up matching into a mid tier academic IM program and have just finished up intern year. Found out today that I passed step 3, albiet with a low score which doesn't really matter at this stage. Just want to give hope to some who may not have a smooth or straight forward road. I struggled, but didn't give up, kept working hard, and am getting there! Good luck to everyone in their endeavors and thanks to all of you that were there to offer sound and reasonable advice at my low point! Had I not listened, I would have a very different story to tell.