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Nontrad med school experience

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by Helen Wheels, Aug 12, 2011.

  1. Helen Wheels

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    So, many of you know I started med school three weeks ago. Thought I would share my experiences so far.

    I was really worried I would be a freak because of my age but my school has quite a few people that look close to me in age (they have to be in their 30's). Possibly I am the oldest in my class but the school hasn't shared any data about that. Really, my age has been a non-issue and I barely think about it at this point. To make a generalization, millennials have a great sense of humor! My classmates are very supportive and helpful.

    I did okay on the quizzes we had in the first two weeks but now things are starting to fall apart. I wasn't a science major and I am far removed from my pre-req coursework so I guess that does not help. I am struggling with Anatomy and I have to study my butt off this weekend for the histology final on Monday or I am going to fail the histo course. :(

    I think I can get a passing grade in histo with hard work this weekend and on Monday I am going to ask for a tutor for Anatomy. I worked so hard to get here and I knew it would be hard work here but I didn't realize I was going to struggle so much. Yep, I was in tears this week. It only took three weeks of med school to crack me. :cry:

    To top it off, my neck and shoulder are killing me. I think it is from a combination of studying so much along with lugging these heavy books around campus, and sitting for hours in these awful lecture hall seats my school has. The shame of it is, I go to an osteopathic school but they haven't taught us yet how to treat anything so I can't ask my classmates for an adjustment yet.
     
    #1 Helen Wheels, Aug 12, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011
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  3. Northwesterly

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    As a pre-med, I don't have anything very useful to add here, but I always appreciate hearing these perspectives. Thanks for writing this up, and I'd love to hear more as your first year progresses--all too many of the SDN narratives fall into one of two camps: "Med school was no problem, quit your whining," or "I hate this and wish I'd gone into finance."
    Good luck!
     
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  4. aviendhae

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    As a pre-med, I too appreciate this post. Most people are in shock in when I tell them how old I am. Thankfully I was blessed with genes that causes me to look waaaaaaaaaay younger. This may sound great, but most people think I am lying about my age or that my ID is fake lol.

    The upside, that I have found so far, is that my younger classmates actually look up to me. Especially for advice. I was expecting to be shunned or worse.

    I am happy to hear that your experience in med school continues to disprove my original thoughts on the matter.

    With that said, GOOD LUCK!!! Keep your mind on the prize and stay focused. You CAN do it.
     
  5. hawkbit

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    I hope you continue to update us... as long as it won't interfere with passing of course! I'm just a pre-med so I can't offer concrete advice but... through my research of medschool it would seem that you are not alone. There are probably quite a few people in your class that are similarly struggling. You seem to be taking the right approach in seeking help... if your current study habits are not cutting it that is what I would focus on changing/updating. Talk to your professors... I'm sure they can give you some solid advice on what you need to do! Good luck!
     
  6. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    Helen, you are doing the right thing by using the tutor. Take advantage of that and any other resources you need in order to get through this block. You aren't the first student to have this problem, and that's why the school offers these services. If you can, it may also be helpful to find an MS2 "buddy" who can give you tips and advice for surviving the transition to med school. Also, don't hesitate to ask those millennial classmates of yours how they're doing it.

    Ultimately, memorization-intense classes like anatomy and histo may take some trial and error until you figure out what works for you. Memorization isn't my strong suit either, and I had to work harder in those subjects than a lot of my classmates did. What ultimately helped me was using a combination of atlases (they make them for histo as well as anatomy), mnemonics, and sheer repetition. Maybe that will work for you, and maybe it will be something else entirely. You'll just have to try some things out and see.

    I know this feels scary and too difficult to you right now, but you *can* do it, and you *will* do it. The fact that you're asking for help early is the best predictor of your ultimate success.

    Best of luck to you, and don't give up. :)
     
  7. NuttyEngDude

    NuttyEngDude Red-Flagville
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    Helen, thanks for your recount so far, please keep us non-trad pre-med types posted as you advance through your education with your experiences. :)
     
  8. Tygacil

    Tygacil Phar_MD
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    It's certainly a tough adjustment, keep your head up!

    Non solicited advice - most of medical school is really just a matter of putting the time in, as you've realized concepts aren't tough its the volume of info. Of course, some people require more time, and its finding the right time.

    Anatomy - I found Rohen's book to be incredibly helpful (pictures of real disections)
    Histology - Make sure you're utilizing 'Shotgun Histology' - you tube it, and the Virtual Slide Box (google 'annotated virtual slidebox') - awesome site at the university of iowa.

    You are probably aware of these resources, but just incase you aren't!

    -tyg
     
  9. Velocity

    Velocity Keep it Constant

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    Helen, I feel for you (doubly so since you're in my class, although I don't think I've met you yet). When my wife went through medical school, I can't tell you how often I was drowned in her tears because of how hard she studied and how it didn't correlate with her graded performance - and she's someone who had a really strong science background and very disciplined attitude about studying. I like to think of something that another SDN poster (I think someone at LECOM-B) said: "I've never studied so hard for a B in my life." It's really personally trying, to put in so much and to seemingly receive so little back.

    I don't like the way that they're running anatomy for us, and I'm still trying to find my "best" method. What I've discovered so far is that the Gray's Atlas of Anatomy isn't that great. Our LRC has all of the major atlases, so I'd come in and peruse them to see if one of them "speaks to you" better. I settled on Gilroy (also known as Thieme), which is a really exceptional atlas, and have converted two more classmates over to it. I like the art style better, but more importantly, they have very small blurbs of useful text (including clinical correlations!), they have tables that include information on muscle origins and insertions, functions, and innervations, and they have simplified muscle schematics to make it even easier to visualize what is going where. I highly recommend it.

    I stopped reading Gray's (the book). I find it to be a waste of time. Instead, I go through the Gilroy atlas, and skim through the Gray's for the green boxes (clinical information).

    I've also picked up Netter's flash cards. I've never been a flash card studier, and I'm not much for memorization, but anatomy is all about repetition, right? I try to go through all of the flash cards from at least one region per night. The cards also include information on origins, insertions, innervations, and more clinically relevant information. I don't know how effective it is, but I'm sure it must be doing something. I just hope it does enough - and fast - for our anatomy tests this week.
     
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  10. MakesSense

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    I am starting week three tomorrow. I am usually the first one in the study rooms on the weekends and the last one to leave. During the week, it is about the same. But this is what I figured would happen and I am putting in the time needed to get this material into my "old" brain.

    I take to heart the sage advise of our Dean; "study for perfection BUT be thankful to pass"
     
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  11. ejw5075

    ejw5075 Smile.
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    Some people "crack" much easier (like cry on day 1...of orientation....). Some of those people also have strong science backgrounds and still have no idea what is going on or how to keep up.

    Speaking of age, a second year at my school just turned 18. That is much more awkward than being 30+
     
  12. mauberley

    mauberley radiating prestige
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    wiat what
     
  13. ejw5075

    ejw5075 Smile.
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    Her sister is also a second year (21 years old) talk about living in a shadow.. Apparently they are both "normal" and not socially awkward but I cannot imagine turning 21 during my fourth year of medical school.
     
  14. yellowfinGuy

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    Where they home schooled or something? I don't see how they can be socially normal, seems like all they have done is school and nothing else. No time to develop social skills like having a part time job or something. I didn't even know that you could be that young and in med-school.
     
  15. ejw5075

    ejw5075 Smile.
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    Nor did I until I saw it happen. She started UG at 14, not sure how that works but she was obviously capable enough to be accepted. I don't know if they were home schooled. I don't know why or how they went through school so quickly, how they developed social skills, etc. Like I said, much more awkward than being in your 30s in a class with avg age of 23.
     
  16. Helen Wheels

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    No, I'd hate business or law. So far, there is still nothing else I'd rather be doing.

    Yeah, I pass for younger than I am. Most people seem to think I am about 8-10 years younger than I really am. I haven't told anyone at school my age. Maybe I don't give my classmates enough credit but I think they might treat me differently if they knew I was almost as old as their parents.

    Will do!

    Thanks. I will definitely look into these.

    I don't like the lack of structure in "lab" where we have first years "teaching" first years. It is the blind leading the blind. I wish we had more structure and faculty guidance for these. Also, though I initially did not think the lack of cadavers was a big deal I now think we are not getting the three dimensional picture that a cadaver would provide (I know the tissues don't look the same). I will definitely check out the Gilroy book. I have been frustrated with the Gray's.

    I am spending all my time not in class studying. God, I hope this gets better and I become more efficient.

    I am actually turning 40 pretty soon. But I am keeping that fact on the down low! ;)

    Meet with tutor tomorrow. Thanks for the support, Q!
     
  17. xadmin

    xadmin Senior Member
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    Seriously, Anatomy is not hard. It is just brute memorization. It is easier than studying for the MCAT. Histology = brute memorization also. Make flash card, draw out diagram.
     
  18. Velocity

    Velocity Keep it Constant

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    Oh, I agree with you. The problem for us is that we have zero lectures. We're given a "lab manual" with structures to know (practically everything), and then we're turned loose. We covered the entire back and upper limb in one week; the next week, we covered the lower limb in two days. That's just under half of my Netter's flash cards in two weeks.

    Instead of lectures, we're put into groups with our classmates and are given 1.5 to 3 hours (depending on what "lab" we're doing) to... well, it's unguided. Groups do different things. Ideally they want us to discuss the clinical aspects behind the structures. I can't speak for Helen's experience, but my group spends the entire time simply trying to find all the damn structures, and we make some clinical remarks that may be relevant. And yes, we've all found the structures the night before, so we're not coming in unprepared. I feel like we're wasting a lot of time simply finding the things. It'd be useful to have a lecturer just spend 50 minutes running through the stuff so that we have a general idea of where the things are and what they're doing.

    I also really don't understand what the big rush is, particularly given that anatomy is such an important topic. When my father took anatomy, they had six months to cover everything. That was a few decades ago and at a different institution. When my wife took anatomy, she had approximately four months. That was three years ago, and again at a different institution. Helen and I are doing all of this in just under three months. :thumbdown:

    So yeah, the material and memorization is not hard at all, and I enjoy learning it. The pacing and lack of guidance is what makes it difficult.
     
  19. xadmin

    xadmin Senior Member
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    Yeah, the best thing to do in this regard is to get the board books and focus on those important topics. Anatomy is a big topic and boring, hence that is why it requires time to learn.
     
  20. TrimtheChute

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    Helen & Velocity,
    I'm an MS2 at SH. They way they teach us anatomy is not the ideal, but do know that you will get thru it. A few had to remediate from my class, but the vast majority did pass.

    IMO, the written test was better than expected because they focused on the high yield areas of anatomy. Do the Gray's questions, and you will see very similar if not occasionally the same questions on the test. There are only so many ways they can ask you about wrist drop for example.

    Some in my class only used the BRS anatomy to study and while they did fine, there are some areas that were covered from Grays that were not in BRS - so just a caution.

    Good luck!:luck:
     
  21. mafunk

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    I was advised by a med student to take Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology post med school application, but pre matriculation. She said it would make life much easier once I am accepted. This thread validates my decision to take her up on her advice.
     
  22. BlestMama

    BlestMama MS0
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    I hope this is true because I will be taking all three for my human biology degree.
     
  23. Helen Wheels

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    Yeah, no one really seems to push taking anatomy for pre meds. In fact, I have often heard the "oh, you don't have to take that they'll teach you all you need to know in med school" line. The people in my group who had anatomy before seem to be struggling less. I can't speak for pharm and phys but I would think it can't hurt to have a leg up.
     
  24. Helen Wheels

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    Yep, about how it goes in my group except we have also been trying to go through the relevant pictures on the DVD (photos from cadavers for those not in this particular school), too, since those are the ones we get tested on.

    This process is interrupted periodically by faculty who wander in and out to see if we have questions. And since the threat of pop quizzes looms we always stop everything as a group and look at them with bated breath until they tell us to go on.
     
  25. chrissyxf

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    I know it's not the same but i used this med school site to survive anatomy...i watched the videos the day before the dissection on that area, immediately after and before the test...check it out:
    www.anatomy.wisc.edu/courses/gross
     
  26. TSasser

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  27. augeremt

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    My pre-med advisor said taking anatomy at the undergrad level only helps for the first three weeks of med school (from surveys of their grads) so I decided not to take it and instead focus on other classes that would be useful for the MCAT. We'll see how that decision affects med school anatomy for me.
     
  28. evans2000

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  29. Helen Wheels

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    Velocity, thanks for the tip! I bought a copy of Thieme and I do think it is better than Gray's or Netter's. Also, I have both Netter's and Thieme flash cards and I think the Thieme flashcards are also better. The Thieme flash cards don't have the answer on the top front of every card like Netter's :rolleyes: Also, the Thieme cards have more detail and also quiz you on relevant clinical correlations. :thumbup:

    My tutor and I have mapped out a schedule for prepping for the next test and I made an appointment to go over my bombed exam and get some suggestions from the anatomy instructor at my school. I'm being as proactive as I can.:xf:
     
  30. n3xa

    n3xa "the anchor"
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    That^^ pretty much sums up what I thought about my upper-division biology classes as a post-bacc student. It took me a minute to tune out the "oh I just looked at my notes the night before" crowd. I made a ton of ugly drawings and making photocopies of my coloring book, whiting out the tags, and filling in the blanks.

    Hope things are going better Helen. :) :luck: :luck: :luck:
     
  31. Velocity

    Velocity Keep it Constant

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    I'm glad you're finding the Thieme atlas better! And for the flash cards, darn - I was originally deciding between the Thieme and Netter ones, and a review on Amazon claimed that the Netter's were better than Thieme in terms of detail, so that's what I went with. They're not bad... oh well.

    I didn't do very well on the first exam, either. Here's hoping that we can both get it together and improve on the coming tests.
     
  32. Dayzie

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    I just sent my cousin one of the anatomy coloring books for her class (she's in school for either dental hygienist or pre-dent.... can't remember which, exactly, but I know that I'm a bit surprised she's taking the full class.)

    I haven't taken it yet, so I don't have any real opinions on them and I have NO idea of whether they'd even help at the med school level.... just sounded like a neat idea that might take the stress out. Are nontrad medical students too cool to color? :p
     
  33. Helen Wheels

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    So, after weeks and weeks of failing everything in Anatomy I think it is finally starting to click! In the past week I passed two quizzes! I have another big exam in a week and a half and I am really going to have to kick some serious ass on it to bring up my current crummy overall grade in the course. But I got really mad at myself over the weekend and said I just need to do this, it isn't rocket science for heaven's sake! :mad:

    By the way, found a nice review book for Anatomy which has been really helpful to me:

    http://www.amazon.com/Gross-Anatomy-Big-Picture-LANGE/dp/0071476725/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316059628&sr=8-1
     
  34. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    Atta girl. You can totally do this. It's just a matter of figuring out how you learn best. :thumbup:
     
  35. EdLongshanks

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    I'm dying in anatomy also. What is helping me are the smart phone apps - like "learn Muscles" and "Netters anatomy". The learn muscles app gets me familiarized with the area - but is too elementary, the Netter's app let's me look up a structure by name and then let's me touch around the whole plate and guess names. It also contains the page number for the Netter's atlas - which I can look up for a bigger page look.
     
  36. Helen Wheels

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    Q, As dumb as this sounds, I have been away from school so long I forgot how to study. :oops: And med school is hardly the place you want to have this realization.
     
  37. Morsetlis

    Morsetlis I wish I were a dentist
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    You don't take the "full class" at an undergraduate level. Yes, any kind of Anatomy/Physiology will help tremendously, if only on the level that you know the terminologies (tubercle versus fossa versus tuberosity versus trochlea and that your clavicle isn't really a rib).

    They won't count as a science class.

    For Anatomy, I use lecture notes, a Netter's, and practice with a USMLE-style Anatomy Review Book (cause like all 2% of the USMLE is Anatomy, yanno): http://www.amazon.com/Grays-Anatomy-Review-Marios-Loukas/dp/0443069387 <--My professor wrote the book lololol.

    Example question:

    During a fight in a tavern, a 45yo male construction worker received a shallow stab wound from a broken beer bottle at a point near the middle of the left posterior triangle of his neck. Upon physical examination it is observed that the left shoulder is drooping lower than the right shoulder, and the superior angle of the scapula juts out slightly. Strength in turning the head to the right or left appears to be symmetric. Which of the following nerves is most likely injured?
    A. Suprascular nerve in the supraspinous fossa
    B. Terminal segment of the dorsal scapular nerve
    C. Upper trunk of the brachial plexus
    D. The spinal accessory nerve in the posterior cervical triangle
    E. The thoracodorsal nerve in the axilla

    Answer:

    The left spinal accessory nerve has been injured distal to the left sternocleidomastoid muscle, resulting in paralysis of the trapezius, allowing the shoulder to droop and the superior angle to push out posteriorly. The sternocleidomastoid muscles are intact, as demonstrated by symmetry in strength in turning the head to the right and left. There is no indication of paralysis of the lateral rotators of the shoulder or elbow flexors (suprascapular nerve or upper trunk). Thoracodorsal nerve injur would result in paralysis of the latissimus dorsi, an extensor, and medial rotator of the humerus.

    I mean, you can practically learn anatomy from just the answers!

    Yes, about 75% of the questions on our tests are this long-winded and annoying.

    Or, you can browse a school's curriculum and class notes and get a condensed version like this: https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=1QcJ_3OZcwjEyKgQJlGD34VcQjebp-Q-BHfr6L5hG54Spe5w9d-XM6_AJSAXW&sort=name&layout=list&num=50 <--Really really really good for studying, bad for knowing where things are (go to the cadaver lab for that).
     
    #36 Morsetlis, Sep 17, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2011
  38. ljafri14

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  39. MeowMix

    MeowMix Explaining "Post-Call"
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    Glad to hear you are finding a way through. Many of us have been there and remember the tears and the frustration. Keep going. Figure out what works for you. Everyone is different. What worked in undergrad probably will be inadequate for the load of memorization now.

    Do not be afraid to skip class and stay home and study, if that is more effective. It liberated me and gave me hours back every day. We did have mp3 files of lectures and powerpoints, so i did not miss anything. Would be hard to do otherwise.
     
  40. Helen Wheels

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    Quick update. I managed to pass my second anatomy exam this week. :) I only got a C which is frustrating considering how many hours went into this but at least it is passing.
     
  41. dsoz

    dsoz Accepted OHSU C/O 2017
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    First of all, congratulations on passing the exam!!!! Every victory should have a celebration. :)

    Please don't take offense to this question. Why is med school anatomy so difficult for you? Did you have undergrad anatomy? Is it the memorization? Are you being asked to apply your knowledge?

    I am a non-traditional pre-med and did not have anatomy in my undergrad degree (BS in biology). Your posts are scaring me a little about wanting to apply to med school. I did sign up for a community college anatomy class this year, so I should have that under my belt before I submit my application next summer.

    dsoz
     
  42. ShyRem

    ShyRem I need more coffee.
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    Congrats, Helen. Everyone has at least one class that drives them to tears (for me it was bacteriology - I literally sat on the floor at school in the curriculum office and cried with relief when I found I passed that class).

    Figure out what works for you - whether using web resources, quizzes, review books, studying with friends, ppt review on your ipod, whatever. Once you figure out your best learning style, it does get easier. You'll laugh, but for anatomy the Anatomy Coloring book was a reasonable quick review and relaxing. Makes you feel like a kid again. :)

    As for your back dysfunction, find a kind second year or make an appointment with a fellow (most DO schools have an undergrad OMT fellowship program). They'll fix you right up and generally the fellows have more open appointments at the beginning of the year because the first years haven't discovered their services yet.
     
  43. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
    Administrator Physician PhD Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

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    P = DO, my friend. WTG. :thumbup:

    Agree w/ Shy that everyone has at least one class that is their arch-nemesis while in med school. I didn't much enjoy the memorization-intensive subjects like anatomy (although I did enjoy the lab part). But for me the worst was, and continues to be, musculoskeletal. Don't like it, not good at it, never learned it beyond the minimum needed to get through the block and the USMLE Steps.
     
  44. Velocity

    Velocity Keep it Constant

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    I can't speak for Helen, but we're in the same class and I'm also having issues with anatomy. I wouldn't think it's the memorization, as I did cell signaling research before this and memorized quite a few signaling pathways (which are even more obscure than anatomical features). In my case, it's just how I think. I don't care for surgery, and approach anatomy from more of a pathological standpoint. As a result, I find myself discarding information on positional relatedness (which is a huge focus for us), and prefer to focus more on function and what can go wrong. We're not given lectures, so if I can't figure out a reason why something might be important, I tend to forget it or gloss over it. As a result, it seems that what I memorize is much less detailed than what we're expected to know. One of my peers (also a non-trad) is interested in surgery, and told me that he reads through it with the consideration that these are landmarks and structures you'll need to know as you're working on the body. It's a totally different approach, and I can imagine how it would make the information easier.

    Having finally recognized those bits of information, I'm trying to switch up my study methodology to incorporate more questions and spend less time reading through our textbook (which is just hundreds of pages of positional relatedness, which clearly I'm not getting). The way that anatomy is run at our school did not work well for me, personally - I would have benefitted immensely from lectures, and probably from a cadaver as well. Despite that, many of our peers are doing stellar, so clearly it works for some people.

    I'll be happy to make it through anatomy. Cell biology-related classes is where I'll regain my standing...
     
  45. Helen Wheels

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    Another update: I passed the third exam on head and neck this week. At this point, I am waiting to see if my score on the NBME anatomy shelf pushed me up into a passing course grade (my school uses this as a cumulative final exam and somehow incorporates this score into our anatomy grade). It is gonna be close but I remain hopeful. :xf:

    dsoz, There are a number of factors why I had so much trouble with anatomy. 1) I don't have a science degree. I have come to view this as a big disadvantage. The science majors had embryo before, a lot of them had some anatomy, they know what a Western blot is. This is all new to me. 2) I have been out of school for many years. Only had one course in the past several years before starting med school. I forgot how to study and retain material! With such a massive volume of material coming at me this was not good. 3) I am not especially good with visual-spatial relationships and, like velocity said, our school is super big on positional relatedness.
     
  46. wholeheartedly

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    :thumbup::thumbup:

    :highfive:
     
  47. LupaCupcake

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    Memorization sucks, but their are little tricks. This is what works for me, it may or may not help you.
    1. I create acronyms or weird sentences. One example that comes to mind first is from my military training. We had to learn topographic maps. I used the saying "hidden valley ranch salad dressing" to remember that the map would show us all of the "hills, valleys, ridges, saddles and dips". That may sound corny, but it worked. I think a lot of military people use that one. Anyways, you get the point.
    • Let us say you needed to remember "anterior cingulate cortex" for something, but you just kept forgetting it. ACC might not be enough to remember it so you could say "Ancinco" keep saying that word with a weird accent that makes you feel silly...like "I hope no one hears me talking in this ridiculous accent using my fake word". I bet you will remember the world ancinco and then your mind will go *click* oh yea...ANterior Cingulate Cortex..
    2. Something else I have used is light working out while studying. Key
    word being light. Unless hardcore working out would work for you.
    • As an example, the glider at the gym has a neat little "shelf" on the control panel. I suppose it is really for setting your Ipod on or something like that. I have put a notebook up on that little shelf while going at a moderate pace on the glider. I just keep going over the material while doing enough to work up a light sweat. Since it is not a treadmill I am not going to slide off backwards and look like a fool if I get distracted :laugh:.
    Just some tidbits that work for me
     
  48. Helen Wheels

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    I wish I had good news but I am sorry to say I ended up failing anatomy. I fought the good fight but it just wasn't enough. It has been very discouraging to work so hard and to fall just 1% short of a passing grade. :-( I am angry at myself for not being able to do better, I feel that I let my tutor down (who put in some serious hours reviewing with me), and it has been damaging to what little confidence I was gaining.

    So far, my school is supporting me 100%, which is a relief. Since the exams never stop coming, I need to focus on other courses now. Here's hoping I don't mess anything else up between now and the end of the semester. :xf:
     
    #47 Helen Wheels, Oct 30, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2011
  49. mauberley

    mauberley radiating prestige
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    Sorry to hear this, Helen. Keep up the good fight.
     
  50. blife

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    :thumbup:
     
  51. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    Helen, your performance in one class is not a measure of your worth or intelligence, so don't let it eat away at your confidence. You know what to expect now, and you'll be prepared for the retake. In the meantime, give 'em hell in your other courses. You can do it. :)
     

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