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Second year struggle

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by SilverCat, Sep 21, 2014.

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  1. SilverCat

    SilverCat The Friendly Reapp Cat 2+ Year Member

    Hi,

    So I'm a current second year in the middle of our immunology and microbiology. I did well last year, but this year has been terrible--I study eight hours everyday (on top of listening to lectures for about three hours everyday) only to fall further behind in the material--and I track the amount of time I spend studying, so it isn't half an hour of study and half an hour of internet/facebook. I've tried notecards, outlines, but I simply can't seem to remember the minutiae, like if a bacteria is gram positive or negative. I feel like all I've done is study nonstop since this year started, and I still can't seem to do well. Are there any study techniques you guys used for this material that might help?

    Thanks
     
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  3. xffan624

    xffan624 2+ Year Member

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    Anki, and when in doubt, it's gram negative.
     
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  4. Ismet

    Ismet PGY-fun! SDN Administrator 5+ Year Member

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    Micro and immuno is all about memorization, which is all about repetition and more repetition. Flashcards are good if that's your thing. It's material that you just have to drill into your head, and it's not all going to come to you at once. Actually 3rd year has solidified a lot of microbio for me that was just kind of mindlessly memorized in MS1.

    A bacteria being gram positive or negative is not minutiae. It's actually pretty important to know, especially when you get into pharmacology and learn what abx cover what kinds of bugs. As @xffan624 said, there are more gram negatives than gram positives, so if you learn the gram positives and the atypicals, the rest are gram negative by default. First Aid also has nice flow charts for gram + and gram - that I often reference in my head.
     
  5. Priapism4tooLong

    Priapism4tooLong 2+ Year Member

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    How can you not know what gram positives and negatives are when you've been studying for so long
     
  6. sinombre

    sinombre 5+ Year Member

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    I had a similar issue with remembering all of the bacteria/viruses/parasites, because they all started to blend together. What worked for me was making a giant master Excel sheet and randomly quizzing myself on it until I memorized everything. Once I had that down I used Anki for all of the miscellaneous factoids I wanted to remember.
     
  7. bjb305

    bjb305 10+ Year Member

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    why don't you try not spending extra time making notecards and outlines and just study from the book/syllabus with highlights?? you'd prob get thru the material a lot more if you didn't rewrite it yourself
     
  8. Priapism4tooLong

    Priapism4tooLong 2+ Year Member

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    Gram positive and negative is easy, what's harder is memorizing what's rna/dna virus.

    g+ - strep/staph duh, corynebacterium and lister in oh and clostridium
     
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  9. DrOwnage

    DrOwnage 5+ Year Member

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    Look up indole + and - bacteria. Step 1 loves that **** and books don't cover it.
     
  10. chipwhitley

    chipwhitley 2+ Year Member

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    I memorized all the gram positives, and assumed everything else is a gram negative. It was easier because there are a lot more clinically relevant gram negatives than positives.

    I also memorized the ones that are special like acid fast.
     
  11. PL198

    PL198 2+ Year Member

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    I mean a majority of the time they show you a culture, or if it's acid fast they will specifically say it doesn't stain. It's not really hard to know that staph, strep, bacillus, listeria , clostridium and corynebacterium are the +s.
     
  12. DrEnderW

    DrEnderW 2+ Year Member

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    If you haven't seen it already, First Aid has some really great web charts for Gram +/-s and viral genetics. They were extremely helpful for me and after drawing them out a few times, I could picture them in my head and it's stuck ever since.

    As mentioned above, I also had a master Excel sheet with everything on it and routinely drilled that over a couple months.
     
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  13. Psai

    Psai Account on Hold Account on Hold 2+ Year Member

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    This is exactly why we say that you guys have no idea what is minutiae. Jesus Christ
     
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  14. Priapism4tooLong

    Priapism4tooLong 2+ Year Member

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    What do you mean there are more clinically relevant g- than +?
     
  15. PL198

    PL198 2+ Year Member

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    lol this. that's not minutiae it describes significant details about the bacterium by itself. that's like saying the way a virus replicates is minutiae. ugh no

    probably just that there are more of them so it seems that way, or that since the + are more common that it might seem that way. if anything I'd think it's the opposite since gram- are much harder to destroy and you have to actually had a good idea what it is to treat it, rather than the g+ which are much easier to kill and I'd argue you could be less sure of and still treat.
     
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  16. chipwhitley

    chipwhitley 2+ Year Member

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    I remember making a list of the gram negatives and positive bacteria from First Aid, and finding that there were more in the gram negative column. Therefore, I just memorized the gram positive list.
     
  17. Priapism4tooLong

    Priapism4tooLong 2+ Year Member

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    Ah Ok, but most of the infections you'll be treating will be G+
     
  18. chipwhitley

    chipwhitley 2+ Year Member

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    Right. I dunno maybe my strategy was dumb, but I know the gram +s and -s very well now.
     
  19. Ismet

    Ismet PGY-fun! SDN Administrator 5+ Year Member

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    Pretty sure he means that there are more high yield gram negatives to learn than gram positives, not that gram negatives are more clinically relevant.
     
  20. chipwhitley

    chipwhitley 2+ Year Member

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    Yes, this is exactly what I meant.
     
  21. Priapism4tooLong

    Priapism4tooLong 2+ Year Member

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    if it worked it's not dumb lol, I think most people memorize it like thy as well
     
  22. SN12357

    SN12357 2+ Year Member

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    I'm only an M1 and can't personally testify to it but there are some M2s at my school who swear by picmonic for memorizing minutia. They specifically said our ID sequence was when it started being useful.
     
  23. Ismet

    Ismet PGY-fun! SDN Administrator 5+ Year Member

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    I'm not a fan of picmonic, but I know a couple people who used it. I've never been a fan of mnemonics except for the super common ones...I feel like you end up having to memorize more, as you are not only memorizing a ton of mnemonics but you're still memorizing what each part of the mnemonic stands for. But, to each his own. It seems to work for some people.
     
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  24. SN12357

    SN12357 2+ Year Member

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    I feel that way about word-based mnemonics (why am I memorizing different words than the ones I need to memorize?), but the visual nature of picmonic seemed to cut through that when I checked out the free trial. Like I said, it's waaay too early for me to provide personal testimony but it's probably worth investigating for someone specifically having problems memorizing. I agree it's highly variable how useful people seem to find it.
     
  25. Oogieboogie

    Oogieboogie 2+ Year Member

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    Hi Silvercat:

    I super empathize with you. I struggled through immunology and microbiology as well. I have a terrible memory, so I rely mostly on identifying patterns and understanding concepts which can be hard when it comes to microbiology. It's not impossible though.

    For me, what worked well is to try to identify the different microorganisms as different "people" with various characteristics. I have a little cheat sheet on all the microorganisms that I wrote myself, and I have people quiz me on the organisms specifications. Eventually, when you read up on all the microorganisms you will see patterns that are helpful.

    The book that most people find useful is Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple. It has some pretty goofy ways to help you remember things, but I personally enjoyed reading and taking notes out of Clinical Medical Microbiology by Murray. A lot of other students enjoy reading the Lange microbiology. Once I finished reading a particular section on a bug, I would read the Clinical Microbiology Made Ridiculously Simple on that bug to see the "relevant" material. After that, I would watch the relevant Kaplan video on the microorganism.

    Once you have done this for all the relevant microorganisms, I would work through First Aid to help you organize the information in your head/remind you of the relevant and pertinent facts. Then go through all the questions you can get your hands on and read all the wrong/right answers and make annotations in first aid until you know everything cold.

    I did this for about 50% of the organisms because we were given 2.5 weeks to study microbiology, and I ultimately ran out of time. I had to short cut to just doing questions/making annotations/reading CMMRS to catch up on the rest of the material.

    I personally did NOT like picmonic. Some people in my class seemed to like it a lot, but sometimes for me it's more just memorization. A mnemonic isn't very useful if you can't even remember what the mnemonic is IMO hahahahah :D

    This was my experience with Micro-- but everyone is different :) GOOD LUCK
     
  26. DaTruMD

    DaTruMD 7+ Year Member

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    Sketchy micro.
     
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  27. sinombre

    sinombre 5+ Year Member

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    I picked up Microcards today, and I actually like them a lot. I think I spent around $15 for a used set on Amazon.

    edit: by "picked up" I mean received in the mail.
     
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  28. Girly X

    Girly X 5+ Year Member

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    +1 for Sketchy Micro
     
  29. sinombre

    sinombre 5+ Year Member

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    Cool, you can watch all of the Staph videos for free on the SketchyMicro website to see if you like it. Seems very clear and to the point, and I like that you can watch them at 1.7x (which is probably helpful after you've watched it at least once).
     
  30. lovemango

    lovemango Wreck 'Em Bronze Donor 5+ Year Member

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    Any thoughts on Picmonic vs SketchyMicro? I've been trying to decide if it's worth getting Picmonic.
     
  31. eefen

    eefen 5+ Year Member

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    Sketchy micro was awesome for bacteria. It was more helpful than picmonic, IMO.

    Probably the most helpful aspect is that it gives you a single picture with a story for each bug, which is helpful for differentiating them when all of the details are jumbling around in your head.
     
  32. mcloaf

    mcloaf 5+ Year Member

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    I think sketchy micro is better made but it doesn't cover everything. Picmonic is also helpful for things like lysosomal storage diseases IMO.
     
  33. sinombre

    sinombre 5+ Year Member

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    How much does it not cover?
     
  34. seminoma

    seminoma 2+ Year Member

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    Sketchy is bacteria only.
     
  35. sinombre

    sinombre 5+ Year Member

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    Gotcha. But how well does it cover bacteria?
     
  36. seminoma

    seminoma 2+ Year Member

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    Pretty well imo. Better than picmonic for sure. Great for remembering factoids about each bug... Morphology, mechanism of infection, treatment, lab tests and agars, etc.

    A bunch of the videos are actually available on youtube. Here's the v.cholerae one.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2014
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  37. mcloaf

    mcloaf 5+ Year Member

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    Of the bugs that it covers it does a fantastic job. There are a few bugs that are missing, but not any of the HY most common ones. I supplemented with picmonic for viruses/fungi/parasites and antibacterials.
     
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  38. alpinism

    alpinism Give Em' the Jet Fuel 5+ Year Member

    Wasn't a big fan of Picmonic. Way too complicated and just made for more unnecessary memorization.

    Really liked Clinical microbiology made ridiculously simple.
     
  39. PL198

    PL198 2+ Year Member

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    yeah like you can remember that the dictator's mustache is comma shaped and that he represents vibrio, which is comma shaped or you can just memorize that vibrio is comma shaped.
     
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  40. PL198

    PL198 2+ Year Member

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    I feel like these things are essentially get rich quick schemes for education. I don't really buy that people can't memorize or understand facts. It's just that they haven't had enough reps. Everything always seems impossible or useless to us at first, then we achieve a few levels higher and look back and say " wow I'm so stupid." I thought this about algebra in 4th grade, yet obviously I was being an idiot. I feel the people that purchase these types of things benefit from interest and this allowing them to get more reps. I don't think they are superior strategies on their own. Basic fact memorization is just a reps game.
     
  41. sinombre

    sinombre 5+ Year Member

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    You're right that you will remember anything with enough repetition. But when time is limited, and you can efficiently memorize something with fewer repetitions, why wouldn't you? Not factoring in time is foolish. Using your logic you could come to the conclusion that the mnemonics in First Aid are pointless because you can memorize anything tested on Step 1 with enough repetition. I just finished all of the SketchyMicro videos over the past couple of days and they have been hugely helpful.

    I swear sometimes you just make arguments for the sake of being argumentative, without considering what you're actually saying. Using tricks and mnemonics to help digest and retain the massive amount of information thrown at us in medical school is obviously beneficial to just about everyone.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2014
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  42. Anastomoses

    Anastomoses secretly an end artery Banned Account on Hold 2+ Year Member

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    Nobody has mentioned it but my first suggestion is you just take 2 days off. Like completely. go do anything but school. And then get back to it.
     
  43. FutureSunnyDoc

    FutureSunnyDoc 5+ Year Member

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    You just sold me on Sketchy Micro after googling it vs. Picmonic. Thanks, friend! :D
     
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  44. Bobcat18

    Bobcat18 2+ Year Member

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    Sketchy micro is by far the best for retaining micro
     
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  45. sinombre

    sinombre 5+ Year Member

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    I highly recommend it. It helped me a lot on step 1 as well. And I still refer to those mental images during 3rd year.
     
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  46. tvelocity514

    tvelocity514 ASA Member 5+ Year Member

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    +1 for sketchymicro!
     
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  47. FutureSunnyDoc

    FutureSunnyDoc 5+ Year Member

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    Did you guys get Picmonic, too, for the topics (pharm) not covered by Sketchy? It's incredibly helpful to have these images to remember the minute details. Saves so much time!
     
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  48. NYCdude

    NYCdude 2+ Year Member

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    lol at the guy bashing picmonic/sketchy micro. I wonder if he's actually even tried it. I was at a picmonic demonstration a few days ago and I still remember all the stuff I learned about Huntington's disease after looking at the slide for maybe 90 seconds. Normally, memorizing all that material would take me at least 5 or 6 minutes and it might not even stick two or three days after that.

    In other words, these "gimmicks" are legit.
     
  49. Darth Doc

    Darth Doc 2+ Year Member

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    I got picmonic this past week. We have an exam next Friday on a bunch of pharmacology and immunological diseases that I've been learning through picmonic. I've learned the material in detail faster than usual, which means I have more time to learn the other stuff. We'll see if I do better in my class ranking than I usually do. I feel more confident in my knowledge either way.
     

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