Feeling like I didnt learn anything first semester. + other problems.

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by GoodBoy1, Dec 30, 2008.

  1. GoodBoy1

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    I feel like I dont actually know a lot of the stuff I was supposed to learn this first semester of medical school. I also did fairly poorly in my classes and found them to be very boring. I dont feel like this was completely due to the difficulty of medical school. It was also probably due to me being unappy and uninterested in medical school. (although I did find medical school to be very difficult)

    I really would like to do better for several reasons including not wanting to fail out, wanting to do okay on step 1, and wanting to become a competent physician.

    I plan on taking a bit different approach to my studies this spring semester in an attempt to do better, but I am worried that my lack of knowledge from first semesters classes may be a problem if this next semester builds upon what we were already supposed to know. I also am worried about the fact that I found only a small fraction of what was covered in last semesters classes to be interesting. It would be much easier to learn the stuff if it didnt feel like I was flogging myself with a hose while learning it. I really desperately want to be come more interested in the material and more proficient with it.

    I guess Im just confused as to what to do. I am looking for any type of advice that you feel may be helpful.


    Additionally, I suffer from depression and anxiety I have been taking medication for this problem for a couple of years now. My medication does help considerably, but significant symptoms still linger. I was able to function adequately through undergrad while depressed before medication even, but I feel that now that I must work more efficiently the remianing symptoms that I have are more of a significant factor in my academic success. I dont know what to do about this as I dont feel like I have time to **** around with different medications. Also I am not getting noticible side effects on my current med so I like that about it. Guess I dont know how to handle this.
     
  2. bodonid

    bodonid Dr. Spaceman
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    i don't know anything about your medication alteration situation, but I can tell you that not learning 100% of the material first semester probably won't hurt your chances 2nd semester. If you don't change the underlying problem, of course you won't start acing classes, but the difference between a stellar grade and a mediocre grade is the details, and we forget most of that anyway. (or at least we will have after tomorrow night)

    So don't let last semester hold you back!
     
  3. MedChic

    MedChic Senior Member
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    I agree about the not retaining as much as you feel you should. I think that's normal. A lot of the times I felt like I was memorizing countless details just to regurgitate on a multiple choice test.

    I don't know but it seems like most of my classmates have reached the consensus that it is on the wards that you do most of your learning.

    As for your personal situation, wow: I applaud you for getting through 1st semester with having anxiety and depression. That must have been so tough.
     
  4. njbmd

    njbmd Guest
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    For the most part, you can do a "data dump" after every semester of medical school. The good thing is that you are going to be reviewed next year on much of the important material that you studied this year. Another good thing is that if you learned anything at all, you will be able to recall it with review.

    Take the vacation time and get your meds straigntened out but other than that, you had the typical experience of the first semester of medical school. If you passed everything, then ramp up what you can but don't beat yourself up over what's past. You will be going over this material again and you will remember it fine.

    Have a chat with your Dean of Students especially since you have some medication issues. You will need to have someone in administration if things get too rough. You may want to discuss your feelings about your performance in semester one with this person anyway since you have some concerns and doubts.
     
  5. Re3iRtH

    Re3iRtH Member
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    How common is it to suffer from a significant depressive disorder
    for many years? I am only an MS-2 about to start our human
    behavior course, but shoudn't the OP look for a direct altering factor
    in their life that may fix this depression? If it has been going on
    for many years now, it makes me wonder how practical meds would
    be for the long term.
     
  6. gman33

    Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    I don't want to discuss your medical issues, but you should see someone who can address them. Depression and anxiety can't always be "fixed" easily, but some therapy may help to supplement the medications. A good book to check out is "Feeling Good" by Dr. David Burns. Please be proactive in treating your condition.

    For the academic stuff...
    Med school tries to cram so much info into such a small time that I don't think there is any way to actively retain all the stuff for the long term. Just try to do well on all of your exams and move on from there. Keeping things in active memory takes reviewing and you just don't have the time to continually do that. You can worry about reviewing once you start studying for the boards.

    First year is very dry and not everything is interesting. You can try to apply some of the content to clinical situations to help keep it interesting but that doesn't always work. Just do your best and keep your ultimate goals in mind. :luck:
     
  7. OncoCaP

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    There are many ways to approach this. One way is to pick and choose what you study from the material that you have. You probably aren't going to be able to spend a lot of time on every key concept. Thus, pick the ones you like and maybe try to connect them to the others; skim the rest. For example, if you like physiology, start with that and then relate it to the other topics, like histology with structure function, how the tissue supports that physiology. Then you can maybe relate the anatomy to the histology and function. Feel free to be creative.

    Another approach is to get some textbooks or review books that you like. You might need to buy several duds before you hit a winner. Buy them used in good condition and then sell them on Amazon if you don't like them (or after you are through with them if you don't think you will need them anymore). First Aid has some review books listed at the back of the chapters. If you are a very visual person, you might want a book with a lot of figures. If you are more of a "cut to the chase" type person, you might like short review books that just give you the high-yield facts. For some courses you might like the lectures more and others the syllabus works for you. Talk to upperclassmen/women about what works for them. They can usually give you some helpful materials and study tables if your class doesn't do that already internally.

    You could also learn what you can from the lectures and then review the corresponding material in First Aid. Another approach would be to pick the major concepts that you learned and then study case reports (look them up yourself) related to those concepts by looking them up in AccessMedicine or a similar resource. Still another way is to find some people that you like to study with and study with them. Maybe try to think back on what worked for you in undergrad and start laying some foundations for success. Study consistently but give yourself permission to "not know" some things. If it's important you will have it drilled into your brain by repetition every few months. Take care of your health and foster good relationships. Participate in volunteer activities you care about. Eat right to the extent that you have time and can afford it. Exercise ... a great antidepressant. Make sure you don't get burned out. Don't expect to turn this around overnight. Take steps in the right direction and don't be afraid to experiment. I generally found that if I spent the most time on the core concepts and then skimmed and quickly memorized the rest, I was in good shape. I would also shadow various physicians who taught our lectures and that helped motivate me because I observed first hand how important various details are in patient care. Sometimes the physicians you shadow also give you various suggestions and encouragement as well. :luck:
     
  8. Droopy Snoopy

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    Agree with above on working out the underlying depression issues, and I can say you're certainly not alone feeling a little overwhelmed with 1st semester/1st year coursework. Every year there are multiple threads like this. There've been at least 5 in the last few days, and for every student who posts one there's a dozen more in a similar situation. 1st semester anatomy, biochem, histo, etc. has to be some of the most boring subject matter out there, and what with the transition in sheer volume of info compared to undergrad... Combine that with the feelings of coming off thinking you're the smartest kid ever getting into med school to barely scraping by, it's quite understandably extremely ego-dystonic.

    Look, even the A students will retain a great deal of this info. It's unnecessary to have some of it taking up space in your head. However it does constitute the ABCs of medicine so to speak, so keep your head up and muscle through as best you can like the rest of us. You'll actually be surprised what you hang onto. Don't worry about Step 1 now, certainly don't worry about being 'a competent physician' right now, that's weighty stuff to be carrying around all the time.

    Real learning is repetition, years of it. Shorten your focus, parse down your goals, get organized and worry about this lecture, this concept, this test block as it comes. Eventually you start to see things in broader strokes and should be able to piece things together much easier, and as you move on things become more clinically relevant and (hopefully) much more interesting. Best of luck.
     

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