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Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by warrior411, Dec 22, 2008.
Better off doing some dermatology research than trying to get every last percent in preclinical courses.
A couple things. First don't study for the boards right now. Your board prep is doing well in your classes. You can't review material you haven't even learned yet. Second, it is very common for many M1's to feel the same way you do. You are used to getting great grades, and being in the average range feels unacceptable. Well, not everyone in medical school can be at the top of the class. You may actually be an average student in your class. Just keep your head up, and keep working hard. You may not end up being an MGH trained dermatologist, but you'll be a doctor.
you doing study questions? ONe of the more comprehensive kaplan options might be worth it for you if you're this serious. Reading and studying will only get you so far. Questions are good too.
Yeah, you and the rest of your class.
"Positive mental attitude" not withstanding, you can't wish yourself into honors. You might eek out some marginal improvements in study efficiency, but if you're already studying a lot and expect some three-point plan to rocket you into honors, you're going to be sadly disappointed.
IMHO, people who say things like "Can't is not an option" probably have enough, if not too much, in the confidence department.
I did very well in my coursework and on Boards and didn't put in nearly the time that you have listed above. I am not super-intelligent but I am one of the most efficient and organized students around. I was always organized and medical schools challenged me to be more organized.
I learned the material in chunks and kept a very steady schedule with room for socialization and group study work. My system worked for me without having much of a "positive" attitude but a ability to get the job mastered.
I can also tell you that taking time away from coursework mastery makes your less efficient in terms of Board study. Mastery of your coursework is your main preparation for boards until your pre-clinical work is done. Without the entire picture, you are studying in isolation which means that you will have to redo much of what you have done. You "review" for Boards but "study" to learn and master your coursework.
What worked for me likely will not work for you. What works for you likely will not work for me. Each person finds their own style and works within it. If your's is not working for you, then you have to find a way to change it.
I am very sad to see people telling you to "settle"...Aim as high as you can and do the best that you can... thats all you can do in life right? Guess what, if you love derm and you don't match the first time, you'll do a research fellowship and then match.... there are plenty of examples like this... so if you want Harvard Derm or whatever, go for it.... play your cards and let the chips land where they may... but don't let these random people on SDN tell you "No you cant"... because as people on this site have said over and over "misery loves company"
Well, I think that you need to rethink your study habits and figure out what is working and what isn't working. How useful is reading the textbook for you? How much are you getting out of it? Is it high yield at your school? I rarely if ever, crack open a textbook unless there is a concept that I am having difficulty understanding-- just takes up too much time. But that's just me. Some people in my class learn exclusively from textbooks.
The other thing to consider is that by definition, half your class is going to be below the 50th percentile. There is a 50% chance that you are going to be in that half. You may be average or below average despite your best efforts. Just like not everyone who wants to get into medical school ends up with an acceptance letter to their dream school, not everyone who wants an internal medicine residency at MGH or a dermatology residency gets one despite their best efforts.
So just rework your study habits so that you are the most efficient student possible. Try to hit the high yield points the best that you can and find out what works for you. That's all you can do. Good luck!
Hey man. If you are studying 6-8 hours after class and scoring in the 50th percentile consistantly, then something if obviously falling through the cracks. Personally I hate studying with people because I feel like I go slower when I do, but I do have one classmate/friend that I hook up with because I know that he studies like me and is slightly smarter than me . Hooking up with a classmate who is smarter than you will allow you to see what they know that you don't know because that is what is keeping your percentile stagnant. So that would be one piece of advice I have for you.
I also think that you may be your biggest adversary when it comes to this. You could be siking yourself out when you take the test because you are focusing so much on scoring so high. If you are thinking about how you will rank as you take the test then you aren't focusing on what is on the test well enough. We all get that satisfaction when we see that we scoring better on a test than most of our class, but you have to get to a point where you are content with what your best has got you. If you haven't done your best then of course you can do better, but if you have given your all, then be happy with that. Trust me, you will drive yourself crazy constantly comparing yourself to your classmates. Do the best that you can do (which is probably better than 50th percentile) and then be happy with that.
Agreed, a lot of people on SDN are too negative (they would say realistic). You can't achieve this, don't expect to be that. Well if you don't try you definitely wont get what you want.
I have always been successful by concentrating on learning the material. Not necessarily studying to "beat the average".
I also think if you are studying 8 hours a night during the week you might be studying too much. Where I go to school we are frequently in class from 8-5. That would mean you are getting home and studying anywhere from 11 to 1 in the morning without even eating.
My advice would be to go to the gym after class, unwind a bit, get some Outback take out or something and study a healthy 4 hours, get some sleep and study hard on the weekends.
I dont see any reason why you should settle with grades you are not happy with, but do realize many of your peers are battling to beat the average as well. While staying ambitious do be proud of yourself for working hard and doing well.
I personally think you're over studying. So relax and stop worrying about how well you do compared to everyone else, and just focus on yourself and mastering the material you will need to be a great doc. Everything else will fall into line.
Great advice, but I am curious why Outback?
Every med student is an overachiever, used to being at the top of the class. In a talent pool like this, even the below average students are extremely motivated and hard-working. If you are putting in the time, and doing your best work, there is no shame in acheiving average grades.
I don't think anyone told him to settle or to give up his dream, and of course every student should aim high and perform as well as possible. However, it is important to set up realistic goals for yourself. If you are an average student with average board scores, and you will only be satisfied with an MGH residency in derm, then you will probably end up dissatisfied. Is it impossible? No. Is it highly unlikely? Yes. Even the top-of-the-class, multi-derm-published, 250-boarded students have a good chance of being rejected from this residency.
Anyway, I wish you the best of luck, OP, and I hope you are able to make some changes to improve your performance. I would advise you to speak to the study coaches most med schools have. They know the curriculum and the professors, and may be able to point you in the right direction.
Why dont we just cut through the bull right now. You might just be on your way to heartbreak express if you don't manage your emotions/expectations properly. All the students in your class are high performers, and you better believe they are also looking for ways to avoid being "average students". After a few months in medical school, the class rank usually takes shape. Although possible, it is rare to find the kind of jump you are looking for in your class rank, mainly because everyone else is trying their best to improve which creates a wash. You are already maxed out on time you can put in so the only thing left to tweak is technique, and organization.
Remember it could have been worse. You could have been here posting about how you failed anatomy or biochem and need to redo the year. It will be unfair to try to psych you into thinking you can work harder when you are already pushing 8-12 hours of studying a day. Do your best, and if derm does not work or you dont get into MGH, then do something else. 'Cant' might not be acceptable to you, but it sure is a possibility.
I'd say cool down dude. 80% of the stuff you learned in your first semester will be rather irrelevant when you become an intern. The most useful subject in first semester for me was Anatomy and even there the memorizing every bloody muscle in the arm like a crack-head parrot becomes irrelevant in 98% of the courses you'll see later in medicine. I forgot (and keep on forgetting ^^') exactly the name of the bones in the wrist, I always confuse them, but I was only asked a question about it like.. once in a partial exam in my clinical years in my ortho course.
First semester is more of a slight wake-up call to tell you that this ain't HS anymore (in Mexico we start med school fresh out of HS) and you start to adjust to the new rhythm while learning very, very general things about medicine. The first year is more like a foundation to give you an idea of what is normal. If you ever forget the stage of how the embryo's kidney is formed, it's not going to make you a crappy doctor.
One hint: Every doctor forgets most of what they learned in med school. They remember vaguely general concepts, but they won't remember the rather useless minor concepts that USMLE Step 1 loves to ask. The longer someone is a specialist, the more about general medicine they forget.
The really useful subjects are what you'll be taking as an M-2. Pharmachology and Pathology are really, really important subjects. If you're going to go bonkers studying like crazy, use your energy on Pathology, not on which are the chemical steps to making a pathology slide. It's good to have a remote idea of the process, but it's not something as a general doctor you'll ever do.
While I believe it's good that you want to do very well to give you chances early on if you're into a competitive residency; please remember that it's a general rule of thumb that what specialty you were interested at first in med school isn't necesairly what you'll do at the end. I've never met anyone that did what they were thinking of doing when they got in. Keep an open mind in your 3rd year.
I'm pretty interested in IM but it's well-known that internship will truely define what you'll end up doing and I haven't started it yet. I may keep an open mind at least for Ob/Gyn where my hospital gets an insane amount of births per day and it's the interns that do most of the work.
Lastly, the most highly fought hospitals for internship in my case aren't necesairly the places you'll learn the most. People with the highest grades in my university grabbed the foreign slots and several of the really, really posh private hospitals so that they can party in Spain without ever doing night-call and drink coffee and eat cookies while watching soaps in the posh hospitals without ever doing any real procedure experience. The mexican posh hospitals compensate by having a lot of theory classes to fill out time and many of them have Ob/Gyn rotations in public hospitals, but the foreign hospitals have a bad name. While you are partying and touring, others that stayed in Mexico are working their arses off doing procedures.
When the Cenaval exams are done, the foreign slot students fare the worst. I even heard of someone who did the internship in Miami that flunked the practical exam when they told him he had to deliver a baby alone and he didn't know how. I had some interest in Miami myself because I'd have the chance to leave the country and see a different kind of medicine, but even if the slot had been available, I would have never been able to afford the trip living there on my own cash.
You still have the option to do internship anywhere in Mexico, work hard getting a good image to your superiors, request an American hospital to let you do a 2 month rotation and then go there. You still get the chance to gain experience and meet people without having an insane grade average. My internship coordinator at my university even told everyone that doing so is far smarter than doing a 12 month foreign internship gradeswise.
I admit, my class rank isn't that good (but I have personal reasons for a lot of it), but I still had several hospital options when it came for me to choose. I still chose a public hospital and in fact it's quite a nice place and it's so close to home, I can virtually walk there. Had I known how nice the place really was, I would have left it as one of my top 3 choices instead of my 4th. It seems like the kind of place I enjoy with lots of action instead of the ad nauseum boring-ness of some of the private hospitals I've been to. I feel like I lack in practical experience because the theory is quite there (people state I have a very good memory for stuff they parrot memorized and threw away from their memory the next day), it will be an interesting year. It also has great taco street stands, indeed, that's my kind of medicine. Tasty tacos in stingy street stands = WIN.
I'll be frank, I'd like to do my residency in my native USA because I miss my native country. Haven't done the Steps yet, partially because I really want to do very well in them. Don't want to get a 190 on the Step 1.
Like I said before, I'm into IM, but I'm still open for some specialties. However, I wouldn't do a residency in a Mayo clinic type of place. I'm not for the big name, I'm for the real work. I'm a bit of a workaholic and have little patience to be standing around doing nothing. In fact, if I'm not doing something nonstop I get a bit looney. And sadly, because a place like the Mayo is so exclusive, they won't be letting their residents to be doing all of the stuff, that's what the attendings do.
It's the same reason where when I become an M-6, I deny to do my social service in Mexico City. I want to be where the action with no name glory is and work with the real people. My internship hospital wasn't the place I was expected to be in, but I'm starting to love the place now that I've actually been there. If being pompous and you like a big-name place to be your only option, go for it; but be it because that's genuinely you. You can become a great doctor no matter where you do your preparation.
I'd also lower the batteries in your first year, student burnout is horrible. I know by experience. Save your energy for 2nd and 3rd year where the courses will really decide if you stay to become a doctor or not.
As for me, I hate Dermatology, most confusing specialty ever. I'd never want to become one.
Hey folks...merry christmas and happy holidays to all...i hope everyone's enjoying some much needed time away form medical school!
I'm anticipating my grades for my past module...I basically already know i did decent and I'm frustrated because I can't beat the average so far. I know a lot of folks out there feel the same way. I'm not posting here either because i'm set on some competitive residency (ie derm, plastics. etc) but i would like to keep my options open in the event that I wanna do something competitive when i figure it out. So i guess in the mean time I'm just supposed to work as if i wanna do derm or something, eh? Any advice from upperclassmen med students/ interns who felt the same way when they were in my shoes and still ended up doing some competitve to semi-competitive?
Basically, I've heard a bunch of mixed messages about pre-clinical grades...while many say they don't matter, I heard from some that that whats they just want you to hear, but in reality it does matter...
There are several other threads about this, check them out.
Do your best, but remember that half the class is going to be below average.
Agree to a point... except that I have retained zero biochem & very little embryo and this has not held me down in second year whatsoever. Just a thought. Physiology is about the only thing that I wish I had worked harder to master from first year that would have made path easier this year.
gunner...too many in med school...just calm down. who cares about MGH. you'll learn more medicine at most other hospitals anyway. Patients go to MGH to get care from famous doctors, not the residents. Do you care more about your reputation or your skill?
Yeah, but on the other end of the spectrum you've got people blowing sunshine up every 19 MCAT, 200 Step I, bottom 10% guy who posts they want to go to medical school or match plastics. That's not helpful either. It's not helpful to be a cheerleader and it's not helpful to be a messenger of doom. If there's an 800 pound gorilla in the room and instead of talking about how even with the gorilla we've still got so much square-footage to work with for rugs and barcaloungers we all brainstormed about how to take the ****er down and contributed delicious gorilla meat recipes, we'd help more people.
Alright no offense, but your posts are way too long.
Yeah I hate to say it, but I agree. Any M1 who says they're "shooting for IM at MGH or derm" is automatically a gunner. Pathognomonic, I think you doctors say. I understand the OP was trying to say, "listen, I've got ambitious goals so keep that in mind when you give me advice", but these Gosh-Help-Me-I'm-Average Am-I-Doomed threads that pop up by the dozens this time of year get a little tiresome, especially when there's no real question or issue posed that's in any way unique and answers for which could be found in any of the other dozens of threads on "achieving your potential" in medical school.
I think both JeffLebowski and daman has got to get off their high horses. This attitude about being "to cool" to worry about the future.... and anyone else that does makes you a gunner is ridiculous .....there was recently a thread that discussed ad nauseum what being a gunner truly is... you both should go take a look at it.... the OP is NOT a gunner... I mean, this person is trying to adjust to med school, and is obviously worried because they have big aspirations (G-d forbid they come to med school with aspirations and hopes, rather than just cruising through, barely passing)... geeezz, I am so sick of the negativity from people... if you don't have any encouraging words or helpful tips, why post?
Oh come on.
It's one thing to say, "gosh, I'm struggling a bit but I'm interested in competitive specialties or would like to match at a competitive/prestigious program", it's quite another to say "yeah I'm shooting for IM at MGH or derm", and "can't is not an option...I always end up where I want to be..." and "when you score high you just have all the more confidence. What should I do to start scoring higher?" all of which just make you sound like a huge gunner.
Aspirations are great. Living up to all that your potential has in store for you is great. Working your ass off is great. Not wanting to have to settle is great. But as an M1, picking a prestigious-sounding hospital and a prestigious-sounding specialty and say you're shooting for that and that alone just makes you sound silly. Sorry to say it, but how you say something makes a difference in the responses you get. Not to mention, I'm still not clear on what his question really was (and how the topics aren't addressed ad nauseum in a million different ways in a million other threads).
As far as I can tell, he wants to know what he should do to do better on exams in medical school? Great, but it's been covered again and again, the most effective & efficient use of SDN would be a 10 minute search of previous posts. We have no idea what his study techniques are or specific weaknesses are, how can we advise him whether or not to change study habits? And he wants to know if he should study for boards as an M1. An M1 already self-disclosed to be struggling with coursework performance. A quick search would demonstrate near unanimity of the opinion that Step I studying M1 year is a total waste of time and energy and is generally not encouraged by anyone. I mean you can criticize me for being harsh if you want, but I don't think my assessment of the OP is off-base in the slightest and by the sounds of it, others agree.
I can be mature enough to say that the OP saying "Hey, this is what I want and that's what I'll get it" is a little ridiculous, but I took the OPs response not at face value (hope that is what they meant), .... I really just took it as "I won't give up" type of attitude.. which the OP shouldn't! But, yes, things happen in life, and that's life, but it's good to have goals. I think the OP as a first year needed to vent more than anything else, and maybe hear some supportive words from colleagues for encouragement, rather than BS about "coming back to reality" or being called a gunner.
And I will agree, yes to the OP, be more careful how you phrase your questions/responses.
Have you gone over your exams to see what exactly you are getting incorrect? Do you get stressed while you are taking the tests? Do you change answers frequently?
I second working with another classmate. I need to study on my own and right before a test, I go over material with someone which helps me fill in the gaps of my studying.
Good Luck next semester.
Dude, the "BS" is the supportive words and encouragement. Not to be mean, but I don't know OP from Jack. He/she may be a great guy/gal, but offering support or encouragement to someone you don't know anything about is patronizing and transparent. I wouldn't take stock in anything someone says about me unless they know me. Anyway, it doesn't sound like the OP is looking for a hug, it sounds like he/she is looking for practical advice.
That's the beauty of SDN. It's anonymous, so it's honest. Sure, it's possible OP will figure out a way to score honors. However, we only know that OP is (a) in the middle of the class, and (b) that he/she studies a lot, and (c) that he/she would like to be at honors level.
(a), (b), and (c) describe probably 68% of any given medical school class. Am I going to tell 68% of a med school class that they can do better, destroy the 16% of people above them, and somehow in the end all get honors? Hell no. Maybe if the OP had more information (personal issues, studies in front of the TV with a bottle of Old E, dyslexic) there would be something more to go on to change that assessment, but as it stands it's a pretty generic "problem" that, by definition, most people will just have to accept.
It goes without saying that yes, it's possible. Anything's possible. I just have no reason to give OP more credit than everyone else in his situation, or to depreciate the abilities of those at the top of OP's class.
And some of us think that these supportive words can be HARMFUL if you're blowing sunshine at this guy, when it's an obvious fact that half of all med students are BELOW AVERAGE. 90% of med students will not be able to crack the top 10% of their class. We're not saying that the OP can't apply for competitive specialties or have high hopes; we're just saying that if you're already doing all you can, don't beat up on yourself or have unrealistic expectations that you can improve by leaps and bounds.
IMO, the only thing the OP can do is improve his study habits/techniques, because he's obviously studying for large amounts of time. I had very good study habits, so if I wanted to improve, I just needed to put in more time.
lol I just love Outback.