Just finished preclinicals, feel free to ask anything about years 1-2

Dec 15, 2013
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I just finished second year and am currently studying for step 1. Idk if anyone would have any questions or curiosities because this has certainly been done before, but if anything comes up feel free to ask :)
 
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Metzenbaum7
Dec 15, 2013
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Several have accelerated preclin, including (to my knowledge) Duke, Penn, Vanderbilt, Columbia, UVA, Baylor, NYU etc
 
May 28, 2013
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Hi,

Thanks for making this thread. What was your undergraduate major, and how much do you think your relevant undergraduate coursework helped you in the first two years of med school? I'm taking stuff like immunology, endocrine, reproductive phys, eukary. gene regulation next semester, but many med students have told me that I'm wasting my time bothering to take extra classes after getting my first major. What is your take on this having just finished?
 

solitarius

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May 20, 2010
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How many hours per day do you study on average? Did you take a day off (Saturday, Sunday, weekday) consistently each week? Were you at a P/F school?
 
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Metzenbaum7
Dec 15, 2013
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Hi,

Thanks for making this thread. What was your undergraduate major, and how much do you think your relevant undergraduate coursework helped you in the first two years of med school? I'm taking stuff like immunology, endocrine, reproductive phys, eukary. gene regulation next semester, but many med students have told me that I'm wasting my time bothering to take extra classes after getting my first major. What is your take on this having just finished?
I majored in bio, I think that molecular bio was helpful 1st year, I didn't take biochem but I hear that it is different in med school since it focuses on certain things and diseases that are more for boards prep etc. idk in undergrad I took minimum science electives because I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to explore anthropology and art history and stuff I'll never get to have high level instruction in again. Anyway I think med students are trying to stress that these undergrad classes aren't going to make a big difference in med school so don't go out of your way unless you just love it. In that case learn about whatever you want. But, in general, yeah undergrad was relatively meaningless. You just learn all the stuff as it comes and it will be fine :)
 
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Metzenbaum7
Dec 15, 2013
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How many hours per day do you study on average? Did you take a day off (Saturday, Sunday, weekday) consistently each week? Were you at a P/F school?
I went to a p/f school so it kind of went like this- first year I didn't care and I still had an anxiety to do well, so I studied a lot. We got out at noon, I would eat lunch and maybe drink a lunch beer with my friends, then go home and study (I mean study like I'm in my room studying 70% of the time and messing around 30% of the time. Maybe that's backwards ha) until pretty late at night. I would take a solid day off each week. We had shorter exams about 2 weeks a month and a large exam around every 3-4 weeks. So that golden weekend off I would do nothing from Friday at noon until Sunday afternoon.

Second year? I found out first year there is no p+ my friend. I already proved to myself I could compete with all these other smart kids and I started to study a lot less. 2nd year was the best- my exam scores etc. dropped a touch but ironically not an incredible amount. I pretty much did what I wanted most days and then crammed more. Nice outside? I rode my motorcycle for 5 hours. I wouldn't have done that 1st year very often. In med school you really learn how to be a study/exam machine so I think I just knew how to be efficient and the classic med school word "high yield" and ran with it. We have our whole lives to work hard, so give yourself some mental health where you can.


Edit: I forgot- 1st year I went to class, 2nd year I literally went 3 times. Time is your most valuable resource..unless you're a person that has to question professors every class do yourself a favor and watch the podcast at 2x speed instead of wasting your study time in real time. Or, once you start to figure everything out, don't even listen to the podcast..
 

smarts1

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Oct 16, 2010
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I've noticed a lot of people say that once you go to med school, you learn what study techniques work best for you. What is exactly meant by that (i.e. how is it different from undergrad studying)?

Also, do you have any advice on choosing schools? Is there something you wish you had considered in a med school before you chose knowing what you know now?
 
May 28, 2013
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I went to a p/f school so it kind of went like this- first year I didn't care and I still had an anxiety to do well, so I studied a lot. We got out at noon, I would eat lunch and maybe drink a lunch beer with my friends, then go home and study (I mean study like I'm in my room studying 70% of the time and messing around 30% of the time. Maybe that's backwards ha) until pretty late at night. I would take a solid day off each week. We had shorter exams about 2 weeks a month and a large exam around every 3-4 weeks. So that golden weekend off I would do nothing from Friday at noon until Sunday afternoon.

Second year? I found out first year there is no p+ my friend. I already proved to myself I could compete with all these other smart kids and I started to study a lot less. 2nd year was the best- my exam scores etc. dropped a touch but ironically not an incredible amount. I pretty much did what I wanted most days and then crammed more. Nice outside? I rode my motorcycle for 5 hours. I wouldn't have done that 1st year very often. In med school you really learn how to be a study/exam machine so I think I just knew how to be efficient and the classic med school word "high yield" and ran with it. We have our whole lives to work hard, so give yourself some mental health where you can.


Edit: I forgot- 1st year I went to class, 2nd year I literally went 3 times. Time is your most valuable resource..unless you're a person that has to question professors every class do yourself a favor and watch the podcast at 2x speed instead of wasting your study time in real time. Or, once you start to figure everything out, don't even listen to the podcast..
Hi again,

Do you mostly just study the slides or textbook/supplement book the school provides?

Thanks
 
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Metzenbaum7
Dec 15, 2013
21
81
Status
Medical Student
I've noticed a lot of people say that once you go to med school, you learn what study techniques work best for you. What is exactly meant by that (i.e. how is it different from undergrad studying)?

Also, do you have any advice on choosing schools? Is there something you wish you had considered in a med school before you chose knowing what you know now?
Note: this is important- i had an integrated systems curriculum so I have no idea what its like to have finals at the end of a semester. Sounds like a bad time ha.

Well, regarding study techniques, that's tough because I can only answer that question broadly, but the difference between med school and undergrad studying is I probably juggled more info for one 4 week system exam than an entire undergrad semester of all my classes combined. Ha it sounds absurd, but you'll find out soon enough. But, seriously, sometimes notes for a system would be 500-600 word doc pages. So, you need to figure out how to try and learn all that crap! In undergrad I didn't even study- just the night before usually. But, in medical school, for the most part you need to study almost every day because its ridiculous how fast you can get behind. That doesn't mean some students don't cram pretty well, or that I didn't lean towards cramming after I was deep into my groove.

So, basically, you just get to school and give it your best shot and then make adjustments as things work or dont work. As I said before- it's all about time and high yield, so whatever is fastest and you seem to remember the most is your ticket. Usually in undergrad that's just not really necessary because you're not pushed and stretched out in close to the same kind of way. It's kind of a dynamic process. It will be subjective- different people will succeed with totally different techniques. For instance, I didn't make a single flash card and I was totally paperless, but some of my classmates wrote whole binders full of inefficient, unsearchable, hard to read notes...that made me want to barf. Ha you can see I feel strongly about paperless and taking advantage of just letting handouts and google docs work for me instead of me writing them but honestly if it works DO IT. No judgment on my old fashioned work harder not smarter peers :)
 
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Metzenbaum7
Dec 15, 2013
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Do you use Anki, if so, how do you like it?
If it looks or smells like a flash card I didn't use it- UNLESS..it's your good old Netters Anatomy Card...which are worth a MILLION DOLLARS

I do know someone who used this and they seemed to like it but flash cards just aren't my thing
 
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Metzenbaum7
Dec 15, 2013
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Hi again,

Do you mostly just study the slides or textbook/supplement book the school provides?

Thanks
I would use a mix of slides, textbook *depended on the system* because some were way better than others. And that's so subjective. I might love a textbook that my friends hated or the other way around. As a class we were able to share class notes and that was so crucial for everyone to shoulder the burden. That was easily my #1 resource. Once second year came around I did start to use First Aid, pathoma, goljan rapid review, etc etc but some people used it the whole time. Basically I focused mostly on what was given to us as readings/handouts/slides etc. because thats where our exam questions came from...why the heck would I want to know stuff that wasn't on the exam? Some people say that's a bad attitude/this isnt for the exam its for your patients blah but you have to know soooo much stuff I think that's pointless to have any excess unless you're just genuinely interested in a particular topic. So I would keep it as tight and focused as possible and was rewarded for that with nice exam grades. So, my feedback was that my technique was working and I kept with it.
 
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Metzenbaum7
Dec 15, 2013
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Medical Student
Are med school exams "fair"? I'm a junior bio major and I generally don't do that well in bio classes. A lot of the times, the professor asks for really obscure details from PPT's on exams. Are medical school exams similar?

Also, would you say you understand everything in your courses on a logical level to see how everything fits in together or is it just a jumble of info?
I can only speak to my exams but I felt like they were generally fair and represented things that were noted to be important and were discussed. We were given long lists of things for every single class that were basically outlines for what was expected and questions seemed to link to that. Once again, that's just how it was for me. That being said #1. there are always questions that are like "huh?" and also sometimes questions that seem to be from previous years classes. What I mean is medical school is diff from undergrad in regards to how much power you have as a student and your class feedback/hundreds of class/prof evals dynamically affect the curriculum year to year. Or, once again, that's how it is here. So sometimes on an exam if several questions were kind of out of left field I assumed they had been written a couple years ago and as the nuances of the system curriculum changed the questions were overlooked. Exam questions are written by profs/lecturers and then go through a committee etc. and the supposed truth is that its hard to write good questions so maybe its difficult to just toss those old questions in the trash because it means making new ones. Idk. On every exam we had several questions thrown out so if tons of people miss certain questions they tend to recognize that.
 

Lya

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May 13, 2013
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If it looks or smells like a flash card I didn't use it- UNLESS..it's your good old Netters Anatomy Card...which are worth a MILLION DOLLARS

I do know someone who used this and they seemed to like it but flash cards just aren't my thing
EDIT: Never mind! I did not see your answer above! You already answered the most of it!



Can you break down how exactly you study everyday for classes, a few days before exams, and even for step 1 right now? In other words, can you tell us your study routine?

For example, do you review new notes that you wrote down each day, and read it all once again from the beginning to the end before the exams? Do you use review books (like Netters Anatomy) along with the classes, and if so, what are they and how did you incorporate them into your studying? Did you not use flash cards to test yourself for practice?

One thing I'm concerned about going paperless is I might be less confident with recalling information. I used to writing down condensed notes from my initial notes on computer, so that I can further customize my notes, organize information better, and see the big picture. It seems to help me remember and understand things better, but I'm afraid that this will not work in med school. Do you just remember things right away after reading google docs?



Other tips or advice that you wish you knew in the first year?


Thanks for doing this!
 

RogueUnicorn

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Are med school exams "fair"? I'm a junior bio major and I generally don't do that well in bio classes. A lot of the times, the professor asks for really obscure details from PPT's on exams so I get knocked down a couple points. Are medical school exams similar?

Also, would you say you understand everything in your courses on a logical level to see how everything fits in together or is it just a jumble of info?
Not to butt in on this thread but the concept of "fair" is not something that's overridingly important in med school
 
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Metzenbaum7
Dec 15, 2013
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I've noticed a lot of people say that once you go to med school, you learn what study techniques work best for you. What is exactly meant by that (i.e. how is it different from undergrad studying)?

Also, do you have any advice on choosing schools? Is there something you wish you had considered in a med school before you chose knowing what you know now?
Ahh I forgot to speak about choosing schools. Preclinicals is all about the same, but if you are lucky enough to have choices and can go to a decent P/F school you are nuts not to do it. P=MD.

That being said, you pretty much teach yourself the first two years (or we did) and so if you can find an accelerated curric thats amazing too. I am SO GLAD to be DONE with CLASS. You get so sick of it, and I know second year the highlights were my weekly clinical skills days and seeing patients/doing physical exams. In the classroom eventually you can almost start to forget about what youre doing in medical school...because for a couple years you are more like a science grad student most of the time, and that wears down on you. I'm ready to learn how to be a doctor, not just play one on paper.

Think about where you will do your clerkships, summer research opportunities first year (not super imp. but fun), whether the preclin curric teaches toward boards etc. etc. (although boards are pretty much up to you, it helps that the school tries to highlight the common boards diseases and etc), what the culture of the school is and if that fits you. But, no matter where you go, YOU can probably make the most of it and do well and be the kind of doctor you want to be. Some schools just make things easier on you/have a little more opportunity/clout.
 

Skyforever

wholesome. med school dropout
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I fear being physically unable to handle med school, considering classes during the day and studying til sleep. Have you or anyone you know burnt out physically at some point during preclinical?
 
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Metzenbaum7
Dec 15, 2013
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EDIT: Never mind! I did not see your answer above! You already answered the most of it!



Can you break down how exactly you study everyday for classes, a few days before exams, and even for step 1 right now? In other words, can you tell us your study routine?

For example, do you review new notes that you wrote down each day, and read it all once again from the beginning to the end before the exams? Do you use review books (like Netters Anatomy) along with the classes, and if so, what are they and how did you incorporate them into your studying? Did you not use flash cards to test yourself for practice?

One thing I'm concerned about going paperless is I might be less confident with recalling information. I used to writing down condensed notes from my initial notes on computer, so that I can further customize my notes, organize information better, and see the big picture. It seems to help me remember and understand things better, but I'm afraid that this will not work in med school. Do you just remember things right away after reading google docs?



Other tips or advice that you wish you knew in the first year?


Thanks for doing this!
Umm, you know it depends on the system regarding paperless..so I guess I lead on that I never used a pencil and paper and that's not totally true. Things that I would draw out over and over: neuro tracts/nerve plexuses/anatomy (muscle groups- which ones are used for each movement around a joint, their innervations, vessel supply etc.), (lol for me I wrote down those things for the forearm a hundred time). Also, biochem I had a small whiteboard and it was super necessary for memorizing all that crap. (Shoot, I am days away from having to re-do that...gross!) So biochem all those metabolism cycles and weird stuff like 1 carbon metabolism and amino acid metabolism and purine/pyrimidine synthesis etc. allllll were drawn over and over. Hmm, let me think what else, idk that's the main idea.

But, for stuff like normal physiology etc. people would spend time making huge charts and flow diagrams etc and I never did that. I did mostly just retain what I read. Day to day I would (up until the end of 2nd year when I was just done and a lazy, relaxing fool) read the handout, look over slides, do the textbook reading, just stay on track. We had *literally* hundreds of little quizzes etc. and so that kind of ensures you study as well..it can be annoying at the time but when the exam comes your glad you already learned it in depth. When I was getting ready for an exam usually I would not re-read textbooks etc. but go through all of the notes from the class notes and then write down on a word doc nuggets and pearls that tend to fall out of your head. Like, our last system heme/onc I could might know the main gist about mantle cell lymphoma because I intuitively understand the lymph node architecture and the clinical signs/symptoms but I would type down the minutiae regarding it's association with chromosomal abnormality t(11:14) and how that links together Cyclin-D and IgH, and then whatever the heck pharm stuff I might want to associate with it. So, I do that for every class and then right before the exam I would scan that over again.
 
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Metzenbaum7
Dec 15, 2013
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I fear being physically unable to handle med school, considering classes during the day and studying til sleep. Have you or anyone you know burnt out physically at some point during preclinical?
Yeah we lost a couple classmates, but that happens. That's why I said it's so important to get away with what you can (which is easier to do at a P/F school). At the end of 1st year we had a really long neuro system and I felt pretty burnt because I wanted to be done for the year and neuro was so demanding. It was just a lame combo :) We also started 2nd year back with a rough system and I was still in summer mode ha.

You can learn how to balance it, and you can learn not to worry about every little thing.

Honestly, there were some times when I wanted to scream (edit: there were times I screamed ha), but this was passed on to me and it is so true: you won't always be sure how you did it, but you will make it through it.


EDIT: Humor was the main thing that my friends and I used as a defense mechanism--I think that's even a mature one ha. So, worse it was, the more we would just joke about it sucking. The worse it was the more hilarious we said. Some things were indeed pretty hilarious.
 
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usopen

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Aug 26, 2013
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Hi! Thank you for doing this.
You mentioned Netter's anatomy flash cards and I have some questions on them.

How deep did your anatomy class cover what is on the flash cards? Would you say you once studied everything that was on the cards?

Would you say studying the cards before entering medical school would be helpful towards saving time in med school memorizing lots of anatomical facts in med school?

Thanks!
 
Nov 8, 2013
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Thanks for making this thread, this is really good stuff.

My question is: are med school lecture presentations generally detailed or do they usually bring up topics and have the professor discuss for the entire class. My reason being is that in undergrad I found success in classes where the professor had all the important notes displayed on their powerpoints while I did more poorly in classes where the professors barely had anything on their powerpoints and would just lecture the entire class.
 
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Metzenbaum7
Dec 15, 2013
21
81
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Medical Student
Hi! Thank you for doing this.
You mentioned Netter's anatomy flash cards and I have some questions on them.

How deep did your anatomy class cover what is on the flash cards? Would you say you once studied everything that was on the cards?

Would you say studying the cards before entering medical school would be helpful towards saving time in med school memorizing lots of anatomical facts in med school?

Thanks!
I wrapped up anatomy a little while ago but to my knowledge those Netters cards generally covered what I needed to know in terms of structure, innervation, etc. For us it kind of worked like this- i didn't have discreet anatomy lectures because i am in a newer style curriculum, but we would have anatomy labs that had covered the structure/innervation/etc etc while dissecting, then each lab session would have a trillion related learning expectations that further expanded upon the basic stuff with the relevant clinical correlations, embryology, imaging etc. that would be tested on system exams. So, what I am getting at is the Netters cards were def invaluable for anatomy practicals where most questions were first or second order involving the name of the structure, what it did, its innervation, etc., but much less than you need for higher order exam questions that use basic anatomy as the jumping off point. Does that make sense?

In general I don't think any medical school pre-studying is worth it because you'll be fine as it comes to you in school and you will forget a lot of the stuff anyway/you have to learn so much more than what you think it's kind of futile regardless, but if you wanted to look at stuff that's up to you. Regarding lab I don't think you'll save any appreciable time though, because learning the structures on a card isn't really that difficult no matter when you do it, its the discerning of structures on a raggedy cadaver with everything but a little view covered up and the anatomical structure purposefully oriented weird when you can't touch anything or move anything that takes time to learn how to master :) And that is legwork you just have to put into after-hours lab studying with your friends. The Netters cards will also help you keep a good "ideal" outline of that stuff, so that you can take best guesses for what you know is in the area if you get lost/confused/60 seconds runs out really fast for each station on a practical ha
 
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Metzenbaum7
Dec 15, 2013
21
81
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Medical Student
Thanks for making this thread, this is really good stuff.

My question is: are med school lecture presentations generally detailed or do they usually bring up topics and have the professor discuss for the entire class. My reason being is that in undergrad I found success in classes where the professor had all the important notes displayed on their powerpoints while I did more poorly in classes where the professors barely had anything on their powerpoints and would just lecture the entire class.
This is going to be school/lecturer specific. As a student in a newer integrated curriculum where "active learning" is a key word, you do all the learning on your own beforehand (assigned textbook readings/handouts/pre-recorded lectures etc. that *mostly* cover what is listed in class by class learning expectations...wiki, outside textbooks, step 1 resources also were needed at times) and then in-class lecture is a place to either expand on key points for 50 minutes or spend a couple hours working cases as a group/the many other types of group activities that can be done. That was awesome because we only had 4 hours of class per day (well, most of us by second year had 0 hours of time in class per day outside of required stuff with assessments and etc.) but it did require a lot of work leading up to the sessions. Also, very different from undergrad, I had hundreds of lecturers because each class session would usually have a different prof that specialized in that area. In the beginning, there was some continuity as biochem/basic science etc were longer topics and the same two biochemists may present several times. And, in each system, the physicians and sometimes PhDs that were "system leaders" may be in charge of several sessions. But, in general, you can expect to meet lots of new daily profs that will include a range of styles.

How that works in traditional curriculums? IDK, my guess is you are indeed spending more class-time covering in lecture what we were expected to already know when we got there. So that's the trade-off- i had to teach myself but less class time, other students learn from profs but more class time. I cannot be another student and know their experience but from where I sit one of those seems superior.
 
Nov 8, 2013
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This is going to be school specific. As a student in a newer integrated curriculum where "active learning" is a key word, you do all the learning on your own beforehand (assigned textbook readings/handouts/pre-recorded lectures etc. that *mostly* cover what is listed in class by class learning expectations...wiki, outside textbooks, step 1 resources also were needed at times) and then in-class lecture is a place to either expand on key points for 50 minutes or spend a couple hours working cases as a group/the many other types of group activities that can be done. That was awesome because we only had 4 hours of class per day (well, most of us by second year had 0 hours of time in class per day outside of required stuff with assessments and etc.) but it did require a lot of work leading up to the sessions.

How that works in traditional curriculums? IDK, my guess is you are indeed spending more class-time covering in lecture what we were expected to already know when we got there. So that's the trade-off- i had to teach myself but less class time, other students learn from profs but more class time. I cannot be another student and know their experience but from where I sit one of those seems superior.
Haha I like learning on my own as well. Worked for me on the MCAT, so hopefully it'll work for me in med school. Thanks for the response!
 
Jun 13, 2013
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When you say that "we lost a couple of classmates," what happened to them? Did they repeat or did they drop out from medical school?
 
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Metzenbaum7
Dec 15, 2013
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When you say that "we lost a couple of classmates," what happened to them? Did they repeat or did they drop out from medical school?
It turns out that most medical school's faculty spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about their students, and that because of the investment in them tend to go to great lengths to work with them. The extremely small number of classmates I am referring to didn't seem to have any issues arranging to re-join lower classes in the near future. IDK about other places, but here I am confident that any students with any major issues or events impeding their progress get a ton of support/options.
 

darkjedi

how did this get here I am not good with computer
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Oh, how come your class does step 1 before clinics with the 1.5? I had thought most accelerated programs do them after a year of clinics.