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Improving study skills before Medical school...

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by tpsych, Aug 18, 2011.

  1. tpsych

    2+ Year Member

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    I have completed my post-bacc. work and prerequisites earning a 3.99 GPA! Despite this I still feel like my study skills are lacking a bit. I need to learn how to take better notes in class as well as from reading. I often find myself taking notes and then never looking at them again or not really listening to what is being said because I am so focused on the notes. In the undergrad classes I was able to do very will just using powerpoint provided by the instructors but I have a strong feeling this will not get me by next year in medical school. I am also interested in learning about over all study strategies.

    I have tried talking to my premed advisor about this and he directed me to the study resource center of the college. They weren't very helpful because everything they offer is geared towards recent high school graduates and she thought I need more advanced material (we'll see about this lol). She told me to contact medical schools and ask them for advice. So, I called Harvard. While extremely nice, they could really offer me any advice except for seeking out mentors to help me.

    I am really looking for concrete books or tools I can read/us to improve my study skills. Any recommendations?

    These are two I have come across that seem promising:

    Mastering Medical Sciences: Study Without Stress (Kelman and Straker)

    Study Skills and Test-Taking Strategies for Medical Students: Find and Use Your Personal Learning Style (Oklahoma Notes
     
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  3. NuttyEngDude

    NuttyEngDude Red-Flagville
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  4. FutureSunnyDoc

    FutureSunnyDoc SDN Gold Donor
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    I don't know if you have ADD, but I struggle with those same issues you mentioned. I just ordered this book which looks very promising from the reviews in terms of improving your study skills. I'll let you know how it works for me in the upcoming weeks!
     
  5. Velocity

    Velocity Keep it Constant

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    Congratulations on the awesome post-bacc performance!

    I don't think that there's any established method of improving your study skills. I say that partly because everyone thinks so differently, but also because if such a thing existed, a lot of people would be all over it :idea:

    No matter where you go, medical school is about flexibility. You'll be going through so much material so quickly, the material can vary quite a bit, and your instructors will all have different focuses. How you approach each course will be different: in some cases you may simply study off of a PowerPoint; in other cases, you may need to go to your book. For some material you'll passively read; in others, you'll want to draw out diagrams and tables to make the information easier to understand and remember.

    I'm not really sure how you can prepare yourself for something like this. Don't get discouraged when you start into new material, don't be afraid to quickly cycle through different study techniques, and be creative. The second-years at my school basically offered that same advice, and also remarked that you adapt and become much more efficient at information retention as you go. I can believe it, and I experience it with each class I go through (it always feels daunting at first, but after bashing your head against it for a few hours, it comes a lot more easily).

    If you meant in terms of discipline for simply studying, there are a few techniques you can use. I've never been one for studying for hours on end, so this was of particular concern to me. I like to set a timer for 50 minutes, take a break for 10, and repeat; knowing that there are breaks coming up, and seeing a constant count-down, keeps me working pretty efficiently the entire time. I use a program called Vitamin-R (Mac-only at the moment and not free; I believe there's a Windows version on the way) for keeping track of the timing and logging my hours of work. There are other, similar programs around. It keeps you moving, and by the end of the day you've accomplished a solid 6-8 hours of studying.
     
  6. NuttyEngDude

    NuttyEngDude Red-Flagville
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    Ok, I have something to add :)

    I went to a "talk to first year medical students" event this weekend and most of them uniformly gave the advice of "whatever worked for you in undergrad, stick with it, don't try to change your study habits when you get to medical school."

    This kind of made sense to me since you'll have so much material flying at you so fast that you wont really have the time to experiment. of course, everyone is different in terms of academic ability.
     
  7. EdLongshanks

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    As you see in the referenced thread, I had the same question last year. Having now survived a summer intro course and my first week of medical school, I see that I was right to ask the question.

    Medical school is different than undergrad in this way - the lectures are way to fast to take notes. In undergrad I was taking notes by using excel to make flashcards during the lecture. There is no way to do this in medical school. The lectures are like this. "The zonula occludens is the most apical of the cell adhesions, it's key proteins are claudins, ZO-1,2 & 3. You need to know these molecules. The next junction is the zonula adherins, it is makes a belt around the apical portion of the cell and it's integral protein is cadherin." This is spoken at a full rate of speed with pauses only to take a quick breath. There are no questions from the class and the PhD will finish his lecture within his 50 minutes. He will not slow down for the students.

    Instead of studying for 1 hour for each hour of class, you probably need at least 2 and more like 3 hours. The teacher's handouts and powerpoints are very detailed and will point you to the places in the book that you need to read in detail. You can get the overview by listening in class. Your study has to discover the important details and commit them to memory.

    Here is my suggestion on what to do before starting medical school. Play the little games on the smart phones that teach you the major bones, muscles, nerves, arteries and bone markers. Come up with a system on your computer to organize by subject/test/chapter/ and make sure that you can spend your study time studying, instead of organizing your studying.
     
  8. gman33

    Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    Years 1/2 are mainly about memorizing TONS of facts.
    You need to get good at this skill.
    Very different from what I did in school prior to med school.

    I got some books on memorization techniques.
    Practiced things like learning how to memorize shuffled decks of playing cards using memory techniques.

    This was very helpful to me in school.
     
  9. NuttyEngDude

    NuttyEngDude Red-Flagville
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    Thanks Ed, that is a pretty fast pace, I honestly can't wait :p

    I wonder if the 1st years in the event I attended were just herd-answering a question about it.
     

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