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Studying for "big picture" types

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by orthoman5000, Nov 29, 2002.

  1. orthoman5000

    orthoman5000 Senior Member
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    I was looking for any advice I could get on how best to study for medical school classes if you are the type of person that is more big picture or theory oriented than rote memorization/tiny details oriented.

    I've already completed two medical school classes and did O.K. (B in Biochemistry, and very high C in Cell Biology), but right now Gross Anatomy and Microanatomy are killing me. I didn't do so bad on the first set of Gross tests but bombed micro and I spent so much time on micro that I totally bombed my next set of gross tests and did just as bad in micro as the first test. I'm not in eminent danger of failing Gross because there are so many points left, but I'm in real danger of failing microanatomy. We have 2 more tests (1 class test and the NBME final). I will have to make an A on the last test to have a D going into the final.

    Anyway, this is all really bothering me because I'm not an unintelligent person by any means, and probably have one of the highest MCAT scores in my class (4 points above the class average). It's just that I'm a big picture type person who would rather do math or physics (or any problem solving really) than memorize all the details from a histology or atlas slide.

    I think I really just don't know how to study, so I'm looking for advice from anyone that has a similar learning style. I loving solving problems and really look forward to clinical work where you have to use analytical thinking to solve problems, but I'm really frustrated with the volume of unintellectual rote memorization that I'm having to do right now.

    Anyway, thanks for any advice anyone might have.

    p.s. based on my handle you can see that I want to be an orthopedic surgeon and it's frustrating with these grades because I can see that ambition slipping away as my GPA does.
     
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  3. kidmel45

    kidmel45 Member
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    here's what i've found helpful for histology. look at the cell and see what's in it (i.e. lots of mitochondria, microvilli, etc. and see if that helps you ID what you're looking at. we have EM's posted that we can quiz ourselves with that. as for looking at light microscope stuff, seeing many different pictures of the same thing over and over helps in addition to reading about the function while studying the structures. then you can relate it to the big picture. i try and notice major identifying points of the cell. Hope that helps.

    by the way, you're lucky to be able to see the big picture. that's been the most challenging for me in physio.
     
  4. hotbovie

    hotbovie Member
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    For those visual things, I had to learn my drawing stuff (badly). (eg I would draw a schematic of the entire brachial plexus and take each nerve down to the hand mucles it innervates) We had pracitcal exams for both Anatomy and Histology, so I got together with a few classmates, and we would quiz each other (hold up a struture in the cadaver, and ask what's this at random) we'd get together in the Histo lab each week and put slides on the microscopes and quiz each other on that as well. (practicals were weighted just enough that doing well on them saved my grade!)

    I also found a great book just before I started med school...do a search for "Success Types for Medical Students" written by a biochem prof at one of the TExas schools. Gives lots of great advice on how to alter your study style to fit med school. There' s advice on the web site, and you can order the book. It helped me a lot.

    Plus, now that you've seen what one of the exams for each of the classes is like, you can see what you need to do. Are the exams random trivia questions? Then you'll have to find a way to memorize as much triva as possible. Is it more applying concepts? Now you've seen how they want you to apply stuff. Go over the old exams if you can to see if you just didn't know the material or if you couldn't figure out what the question was asking. You might also ask the course directors of each what they suggest you do to improve, often they can be helpful resources.

    Good luck
     
  5. The White Coat Investor

    The White Coat Investor AKA ActiveDutyMD
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    Keep the big picture attitude, but add to it the ability to memorize. I was also very big picture, and it has helped me immeasurably with retaining the important information. But med school is about passing tests, and the sooner you learn to memorize the sooner you'll start shining.
     
  6. USeF

    USeF sunny L.A.
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    ortho-

    first thing to realize is you're NOT alone. A good chunk of your classmates probably have the exact situation as you- our collective undergrad experiences weren't ALL that different (save a few extremes). Once I sucked it up and expressed my concern and worry, it was amazing how many others felt so overwhelmed also! From then on I had atleast one review/study session wih classmate(s) where we put all the material in perspective before every test.
    What also really helps is that the MS2's remembered how they felt and started having big review sessions in anatomy, physio this year. As a class, we've become real tight in terms of studying together and comparing/demonstrating on our cadavers. No better way to learn than to teach!
     
  7. mongoose

    mongoose Membership Revoked
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    Dude, your situation is so much like mine it is scary. We had Anatomy and Histology in the first block of classes and I did absolutley sh!tty. I just could not get used to learning what seemed to be trillions of unrelated, disjointed, menial facts. Now we are in a block with Biochemistry and Genetics and it is worlds better for me. I am back to enjoying learning the stuff instead of hating trying to cram in tons of mindless drivel. I don't really have much advice, though. Try going to www.medicalmnemonics.com and get some help with remembering the details. Probably one of the only things that saved me. I feel your pain but unfortunately I have no idea how to help you or myself.
     
  8. dotcb

    dotcb ---------
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    Unfortunately you're gonna be tested on those details. So you're prolly doing good with the big picture and just need to spend a bigger proportion of your time on those details.

    I would recommend the Histology Image Review CD. I couldn't have passed my histo class without it. See if you can burn it from a classmate. If you haven't ditched the microscope yet, do so. Not an effective use of study time.

    For anatomy, I have liked the Netter flashcards and the ADAM practice practical CD. Both are visual and detail intensive and have worked well for me.
     
  9. snaggletooth

    snaggletooth Member
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    hey orthoman5000,
    I can sympathize. I have the same problem with this whole med school thing. My talents just aren't being utilized........i'm a physics and math person who has been forced to sit down and memorize a bunch of boring facts. I'm confident though that all will come full circle once I'm actually practicing as a physician. (and have all these facts memorized)

    The best advice I can give you is to do as many questions as possible. It's much easier for me to keep thinking my way through questions. And recently I've found that all the facts I'm learning with the questions stick better if I go through them 2-3 times. My attention is much more focused than when I'm trying to come up with stupid pneumonics or am boring myself to death trying to memorize a list or chart.
     

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