DrArete

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Apr 3, 2010
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Lately I have been reading more and more and more about post baccs, medical school, the MCAT, step 1, specialties, and just about everything in between. In a lot of ways, I am in the process of finding out just how much I don't know, which is both a humbling and an exciting experience.

Anyhow, I came across this old thread - http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=16207, about the use of stimulants to study, and I started to really think about what it will be like in MS1 and MS2.

Normally, when people complain about studying, I just smile and feel smug, since in both my UG and GS years at top schools, I was able to achieve at or near the top with far less studying than any of my peers.

But I know at medical school, this is not the case.

In some ways this excites me - to see how I will respond to a real challenge.

In other ways, I am apprehensive, how will I take it, if my best is only average?

Anyhow, to get to some of the more specific things I wanted some peoples opinions on.

In the long road that is post bacc-medical school-residency-and beyond, how do you stay motivated?

What are some of the tricks you or people you know use to get through many hours of studying? Is drug use really that widespread among students? I have always been of the opinion that less can be more for studying, and that a disciplined routine of intense physical exercise is the best way to relieve stress.

Lastly, and this matters a lot to me, what are some ways to remember why you are doing this and to avoid cynicism?

Doing what I am about to do, will all be a huge waste of time if at the end I am so burnt out and cynical that I don't really give a crap about patients and helping people, and just pursue whatever speciality within my reach has the best/least difficult lifestyle.
 

drizzt3117

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Oct 29, 2006
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A lot of it depends on whether you go to class or not. I tend to only attend things that are required/graded, so on a day without small groups/PBL/patient stuff normal routine would be something like this. I don't usually rewatch lectures unless the slides/handout don't make much sense but a lot of people do.

Wake up ~9 AM, do morning stuff, eat breakfast

Get to lab around 9:30, stay until about 1ish depending on how much work I have to get done.

1-5:30 go to a coffee shop and study class material, I'll read the handout and powerpoints carefully and take notes on the handouts and highlight on the first pass through, then transcribe my own hand-written detailed notes for each thing, which I'll put in the binder with the handout. I do two reads through each chapter consecutively. I try to stay about 3 days ahead of where we should be each day, depending on our lecture load, this usually translates to about 4 1/2 hours of work on school things. I'll get something to munch on there while studying instead of a real lunch, salad or something, I like to eat a bigger breakfast and smaller lunch.

5:30-6:30 I'll usually go to my parents' or home or out to eat dinner.

7-10 I'll usually go to a bookstore or different coffee shop and study I spend this three hours studying boards-related material that's usually related to what I'm studying at the time. For example, since we're in endo right now, I'll go through BRS Phys, Gojlan path, first aid, first aid cases, first aid q&a, Robbins, etc, until I have all of the endo material from every source mastered. I write notes on everything in my moleskine notebook for endo, such that all of the information is in one place.

At 10 I usually go to the gym and work out for an hour or so. I would say on average I work out 6 days a week, and try to keep up with it even during exam weeks.

~11-12 I'll go home and do 1-2 timed USMLE 48 question blocks in various subjects. I have three different Q banks so I have sufficient questions to last me through the end of my board study.

Anyways, that's what M2 year is like. I modify this a little bit on weekends but it's pretty consistent regardless of what day it is. I'll change it up if I have patients to see or small groups to attend. I usually try to go out with friends on the weekends so I'll cut my nights off a little earlier then.

First year I spent more time in research and a little less time studying (esp for boards because it's not particularly useful)

I would say the best way to stay focused on what you're working on is to break things down into manageable chunks, like 3-4 hour blocks of studying.

BTW, I study significantly less than a lot of med students, and most of them don't do research during the year, but I think I'm pretty focused during my study, I don't take a lot of long breaks and I don't socialize during it. I try to give myself about 5 minutes for every 45 to decompress, though. I also spend a lot more time studying for boards earlier than most people, but that's because I feel like it helps me learn material for classes while solidifying what I need to know for the test. A lot of people won't use any outside material at all other than the handout because they don't want to deal with conflicting info. I can usually keep it straight. Many people do use First Aid to augment their studying for classes and I think it's a good idea even in the m1 year.
 

crew09

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Jun 13, 2009
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very good info. It's nice to see how students structure their schedule, this system seems very manageable.

I think the secret is definitely the moleskin notebook :p
 

DrArete

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A lot of it depends on whether you go to class or not. I tend to only attend things that are required/graded, so on a day without small groups/PBL/patient stuff normal routine would be something like this. I don't usually rewatch lectures unless the slides/handout don't make much sense but a lot of people do.

Wake up ~9 AM, do morning stuff, eat breakfast

Get to lab around 9:30, stay until about 1ish depending on how much work I have to get done.

1-5:30 go to a coffee shop and study class material, I'll read the handout and powerpoints carefully and take notes on the handouts and highlight on the first pass through, then transcribe my own hand-written detailed notes for each thing, which I'll put in the binder with the handout. I do two reads through each chapter consecutively. I try to stay about 3 days ahead of where we should be each day, depending on our lecture load, this usually translates to about 4 1/2 hours of work on school things. I'll get something to munch on there while studying instead of a real lunch, salad or something, I like to eat a bigger breakfast and smaller lunch.

5:30-6:30 I'll usually go to my parents' or home or out to eat dinner.

7-10 I'll usually go to a bookstore or different coffee shop and study I spend this three hours studying boards-related material that's usually related to what I'm studying at the time. For example, since we're in endo right now, I'll go through BRS Phys, Gojlan path, first aid, first aid cases, first aid q&a, Robbins, etc, until I have all of the endo material from every source mastered. I write notes on everything in my moleskine notebook for endo, such that all of the information is in one place.

At 10 I usually go to the gym and work out for an hour or so. I would say on average I work out 6 days a week, and try to keep up with it even during exam weeks.

~11-12 I'll go home and do 1-2 timed USMLE 48 question blocks in various subjects. I have three different Q banks so I have sufficient questions to last me through the end of my board study.

Anyways, that's what M2 year is like. I modify this a little bit on weekends but it's pretty consistent regardless of what day it is. I'll change it up if I have patients to see or small groups to attend. I usually try to go out with friends on the weekends so I'll cut my nights off a little earlier then.

First year I spent more time in research and a little less time studying (esp for boards because it's not particularly useful)

I would say the best way to stay focused on what you're working on is to break things down into manageable chunks, like 3-4 hour blocks of studying.

BTW, I study significantly less than a lot of med students, and most of them don't do research during the year, but I think I'm pretty focused during my study, I don't take a lot of long breaks and I don't socialize during it. I try to give myself about 5 minutes for every 45 to decompress, though. I also spend a lot more time studying for boards earlier than most people, but that's because I feel like it helps me learn material for classes while solidifying what I need to know for the test. A lot of people won't use any outside material at all other than the handout because they don't want to deal with conflicting info. I can usually keep it straight. Many people do use First Aid to augment their studying for classes and I think it's a good idea even in the m1 year.

Excellent post, thank you for taking the time to write that.
:thumbup::thumbup:
 

gatewasani

10+ Year Member
Dec 24, 2008
599
0
241
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Pre-Medical
A lot of it depends on whether you go to class or not. I tend to only attend things that are required/graded, so on a day without small groups/PBL/patient stuff normal routine would be something like this. I don't usually rewatch lectures unless the slides/handout don't make much sense but a lot of people do.

Wake up ~9 AM, do morning stuff, eat breakfast

Get to lab around 9:30, stay until about 1ish depending on how much work I have to get done.

1-5:30 go to a coffee shop and study class material, I'll read the handout and powerpoints carefully and take notes on the handouts and highlight on the first pass through, then transcribe my own hand-written detailed notes for each thing, which I'll put in the binder with the handout. I do two reads through each chapter consecutively. I try to stay about 3 days ahead of where we should be each day, depending on our lecture load, this usually translates to about 4 1/2 hours of work on school things. I'll get something to munch on there while studying instead of a real lunch, salad or something, I like to eat a bigger breakfast and smaller lunch.

5:30-6:30 I'll usually go to my parents' or home or out to eat dinner.

7-10 I'll usually go to a bookstore or different coffee shop and study I spend this three hours studying boards-related material that's usually related to what I'm studying at the time. For example, since we're in endo right now, I'll go through BRS Phys, Gojlan path, first aid, first aid cases, first aid q&a, Robbins, etc, until I have all of the endo material from every source mastered. I write notes on everything in my moleskine notebook for endo, such that all of the information is in one place.

At 10 I usually go to the gym and work out for an hour or so. I would say on average I work out 6 days a week, and try to keep up with it even during exam weeks.

~11-12 I'll go home and do 1-2 timed USMLE 48 question blocks in various subjects. I have three different Q banks so I have sufficient questions to last me through the end of my board study.

Anyways, that's what M2 year is like. I modify this a little bit on weekends but it's pretty consistent regardless of what day it is. I'll change it up if I have patients to see or small groups to attend. I usually try to go out with friends on the weekends so I'll cut my nights off a little earlier then.

First year I spent more time in research and a little less time studying (esp for boards because it's not particularly useful)

I would say the best way to stay focused on what you're working on is to break things down into manageable chunks, like 3-4 hour blocks of studying.

BTW, I study significantly less than a lot of med students, and most of them don't do research during the year, but I think I'm pretty focused during my study, I don't take a lot of long breaks and I don't socialize during it. I try to give myself about 5 minutes for every 45 to decompress, though. I also spend a lot more time studying for boards earlier than most people, but that's because I feel like it helps me learn material for classes while solidifying what I need to know for the test. A lot of people won't use any outside material at all other than the handout because they don't want to deal with conflicting info. I can usually keep it straight. Many people do use First Aid to augment their studying for classes and I think it's a good idea even in the m1 year.
dang that sounds awesome, like my ideal schedule in med school
 

klmnop

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Feb 9, 2009
857
2
241
Great stuff...

I'd love to hear some people's study schedules in SMP's, for those of us who haven't quite made it to med yet.
 

Crisco

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Mar 31, 2009
149
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Great stuff...

I'd love to hear some people's study schedules in SMP's, for those of us who haven't quite made it to med yet.
Sure,
I'm currently in the BU MAMS(GMS) Program.

My study schedule depends heavily on what track I am in because one of the two semesters is about 2x as intense as the other semester.

During the more intense semester:
Wake up around 8:00 AM to get to class around 9:00 (Coffee, shower, etc) There's usually about 3 hours of classes on a typical day. I kind of don't function on low amounts of sleep (except on days right before the exam), so after my last class ends (around 1:00 PM), I usually nap for 2-3 hours. I studied in between my two classes. After my nap, I either study in my room or at the library till midnight to 2:00 AM.

As far as how I schedule my studies and what I study:
When there are no upcoming quizzes/exams, I usually (try to) finish the new class material on that day. I spend the weekends making up any material I wasn't able to finish studying. I like to call this my "first time" studying through the material.

When there are exams/quizzes coming up, (let's say this friday), then I drop every other subject/material and dedicate nearly all of my time for that exam. I've already exposed and studied through all the material once, so even though you probably forgot 75-85% of all the material you studied, you'll find that what took 4-5 hours to digest in your first attempt will take like 1-2 hours in your second attempt. Generally, I usually study the material THREE times (or more) before taking the exam. I take the practice exam/quizzes two days before the exam to assess how well I studied. Generally, there will still be slight "holes" in your knowledge even after your third study, because you take for granted certain information. But, that's what the exam/quizzes are for - to fill in the holes that you normally would never notice. i have very strong test taking skills and so I can put off my practice exam/quizzes till nearly right before the actual ones, but some people need to take the practice much, much earlier. These people should attempt to take the practice after their second attempt or so.

I spend the next weekend/week making up for the material I fell behind in.

edit:
oh, also I don't study continuously for 8-10 hours straight. I have a large amount of breaks. Usually every 1.5-2 hours I study, I take 30 minutes off. Sometimes I study for 3 hours straight (for example, finishing an entire lecture) and then take an hour or two off. Really depends on how much material you're being handed on a daily basis.
 
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