Taking Notes in Medical School

Discussion in 'Osteopathic' started by postbacpremed87, 05.13.14.

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  1. postbacpremed87

    postbacpremed87 5+ Year Member

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    I am curious about the preferences in note taking of 1st and 2nd years. Do you like to type your notes? Are you a binder person? What is your set up?
     
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  3. Hakuna Matata

    Hakuna Matata 2+ Year Member

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    This is different for everyone. I'm in a group with a few other people and we divide up the lectures and each type up a set of notes for that particular lecture. Then we all swap notes. It is SUCH a time saver to divide everything up. Then I usually go through and listen to the lectures while looking at their printed notes and take handwritten notes on them and use highlighters. Works for me.
     
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  4. Tapoona

    Tapoona 2+ Year Member

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    This was the biggest adjustment for med school for me. It took me awhile to find what I liked. I do it differently for different classes. I use Picmonic for information that I need to memorize (pharm and micro) and I re-watch lectures over-and-over for more conceptual topics (physio). The faster you figure it out for yourself the more comfortable you will be.
     
  5. rosis

    rosis 2+ Year Member

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    Can anyone chime in on the difference between firecracker and picmonic and which one is a better resource?

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
     
  6. DrEnderW

    DrEnderW 2+ Year Member

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    They are completely different styles for 2 very different purposes. Picmonic, as the name suggests, gives you a fantastical image and each component of the image helps you remember something about the subject you are on. I don't use it, but is supposedly great for bugs and drugs. Down the line, you'd recall the image and the components of the image remind you of the details (like maybe a rhino reminds you of rhinorrhea).

    Firecracker is a different animal and is a serious time commitment to be effective. It has essentially every board relevant piece of info you could imagine. You add content by reviewing info and answering questions. Once you've done this, the questions enter a bank that are scrambled based on your rating of your knowledge and scheduled in a daily series of questions for you. Right now, I've banked about 15% of the material and get >100 questions per day. If you're not committed to put it 1-2 hours at least per day it's not worth it. It's for long term retention for boards. There are also USMLE style qbanks. I think it's the best resource available. Try a free trial once you're settled.
     
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  7. scummie

    scummie 5+ Year Member

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    Note taking service was the best thing ever I thought. If there was any confusion, I could go back and rewatch the lectures.

    As far as memorization goes, I used an app called Mental Case. For each lecture, I made a set of flash cards with images, then made sure I got every single flash card right. Repeated that process up until test day. I liked the app because it was easy to organize subjects and because you could transfer it to your phone. It has an algorithm that it uses to make sure you "master" the card if you get it wrong.

    Some people on this board really like Firecracker. Personally, I think life is too short to spend first year doing board review and what you learn first year is not high yield enough. I'd rather spend 2 months reviewing it instead of 1-2 hrs a day for two years doing even more flashcards. I hate biochem, so it is hard to think of worst things than reviewing it for two years in order to supposedly do better on boards. Perhaps stabbing myself in the eye with a fork would be worse.

    First year and second year are very different. First year is a lot more memorization. Second year is more big picture, clinically based but there is still minutiae you have to know. Second year is infinitely better than first year. I think that depends though on your strengths as a learner. If you are better at regurgitating biochemical pathways, then first year might be easier. On the other hand, second year was more like puzzles. Pt with edema, proteinuria, coke urine, hx of recent infection, what's the dx? First year is the foundation for second year which integrates everything you've learned.
     
  8. rosis

    rosis 2+ Year Member

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    So firecracker is a bit more oriented for the steps im getting. Would picmonic be a good choice for helping in classes or is it more board oriented as well?

    Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
     
  9. Petypet

    Petypet 7+ Year Member

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    I stopped taking notes halfway thru first year. Most of the prof's read off their PPTs, and I just listen to lecture to make sure they don't say "THIS IS ON THE TEST". Then I read FA, pathoma, and maybe another source to see what is important. Then I memorize the slides and important facts that they didn't cover which is found in FA, and I have done sufficiently well on all exams.

    Need to keep in mind, first 2 years are all about boards. While you need to do well, make you sure understand (during your classwork) what is vital, and what they aren't teaching you. Many of the courses taught by PhDs are geared toward basic science mumbo jumbo and are not board or clinically relevant. I have found by supplementing my listening of lecture and studying of PPTs with more outside stuff (rather than taking tons of notes from their lecture) I have a fairly solid foundation.

    Regarding the different subscription type services, you need to sample them to see if you like what they offer. No one can say this is better that, because those things are personal preference. I personally hated firecracker and picnominc but others adore them.

    Find out what works for you and rock out
     
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  10. DrEnderW

    DrEnderW 2+ Year Member

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    It's for the boards in the sense that it drills concepts into you daily and keeps you from forgetting things you've covered. Personally, that's why I use it. I don't want to let those biochem enzymes slip away.

    With that said, the info on each subject is very, very detailed for a lot of topics. It can definitely be a study tool as well. For example, before a micro test you could read all the cards and there would be 200+ questions you could test your recall on for bacteria alone. If you knew all those details you'd do extremely well.

    Some people love it, others hate it. Worth checking out though and if you do it, recognize the time commitment it takes to be worth it. There's a reason it use to be called GunnerTraining.
     
  11. cronaldo7

    cronaldo7 2+ Year Member

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    I am also interested in this.. Do other people use the strategy Hakuna Matata uses? Or is it better to go over all the information yourself first, then meet in a group? etc.
     
  12. DrEnderW

    DrEnderW 2+ Year Member

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    My method is:

    - Watch videos 1 time through at 1.5 to 1.75x to get familiar with the topic (no serious notes or goal to memorize here)
    - Read the appropriate text book for certain classes, such as Constanzo for physio (I don't read for all classes)
    - For anatomy, it requires consistently going through the info. You can't get behind.
    - All other classes, I make a study packet transcribed from the class ppt slides and drill that packet 4x on the days before the exam (this is not some crazy thing that looks like a 13 yo girl with a collection of Lisa Frank markers made - you will see this. It's bullet point lists of must know info)
    - Read relevant BRS books during the couple days before the exam (or other relevant source such as Pathoma or FA - I used some sort of high yield source for all of my classes)
    - Firecracker questions 1-2 hours daily (except day before exams)

    Creating a study packet is labor and time intensive, but I do it because it gives me time with the material and then allows me to make way more passes though the content than would be possible by re-listening to lectures or flipping through 1000 slides. My main piece of advice would be find out what works for you early. For me, it was multiple passes with spaced repetition. I did not group study or ever re-watch a lecture video. Others take a completely different approach and do very well. There is no right or wrong.

    Whatever you do, I urge against passive learning - such as just sitting and listening to lectures to say you got through them. It is way better to actively learn - work on recalling the info and working through processes aloud or in your head before exams. There's a huge difference between understanding a concept when you hear it in a video versus recalling the nitty gritty details days later.

    In my opinion, there's a big difference in time, efficiency, and repetition of studying between doing average on exams versus top of the class. Prepare hard for the first exam and see where you fall and reassess based on your class rank goal, whether that be pass, average, or Top 5%.
     
    Last edited: 05.15.14
  13. OCDEMS

    OCDEMS 2+ Year Member

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    I think group activities are something you have to be very cautious of. That's just my opinion. I see plenty of students who "study" in groups, although I wouldn't bet money on how much studying actually gets done. There are some successful group-oriented teams at my school, but I'd say they are the exception and not the rule. If you can find disciplined people who are compatible with your personality AND learning style, sure, try it out.

    For what it's worth, I find most group activities frustrating if you don't have a semblance of the material mastered. Also, people learn in incredibly variable ways. Some people approach and attack material in a different order or find certain concepts easy that you may find difficult. Then, when you get together, this can often lead to a false feeling of idiocy, i.e. you're sitting there going, "How does this person know all of this?" What you'll often find is that they've simply started on material that you haven't yourself mastered yet.

    Best use of groups/friends: Compare methods. My friends and I do this on a virtual daily basis. "Hey, Bob, how are you going to approach learning this material?" Once and awhile you'll learn something neat or a new method. Incorporate it and move on. Trick? Don't have crappy friends, less they'll gun you down. Also, don't be a jerk. Be comfortable enough in your own methods to share them with your friends and classmates. Truly great students need not worry about the "competition" from their peers.

    Things I see that I find incredibly inefficient:

    1) Elaborate study methods. I see people who will create these crazy elaborate study guides, complete with pictures, color codes, etc. Some of it comes off as sort of ridiculous and I'm not sure it's incredibly helpful. Are there outliers? Probably. There are a lot of overachievers in medical school and don't be intimidated by study guides that look they were done by a professional. Do take advantage of shared resources and give appropriate praise to those crazy enough to write them.

    2) Spending too much time studying. Yes, I said this. The art of medical school is realizing that it is a lot of work. You will study more than at any other time in your life, but living in the library isn't healthy. Appropriate brakes or, gasp, days off are needed. A lot of work does not equal no down time. It just equals lots of work. Burn out is dangerous and I've seen perfectly smart students learn this the hard way.

    3) Memorization over conceptual learning. A lot of stuff in medical school is straight-up memorization. Fact. HOWEVER, not everything can be successfully learned by brute memorization. Some stuff requires understanding the physiologic underpinnings of a disease and, surprise, it gets easier to understand and recognize on a test.

    3a) Corollary to above: some stuff requires brute memorization, period. Identify what that stuff is and get to stuffing (pun intended) it into your head.

    4) Don't be afraid to crack a textbook, especially books like Robbins. Some students will do everything in their power to avoid reading a textbook, sometimes to the point of simply not understanding the material. While it is true that many textbooks are virtually useless, that is not true of them all. Find someone who reads as a key component of their method of study and ask them, "Hey, which books do you find useful?" Likewise, be willing to ditch a bad resource quickly, so as to not waste time.

    Notes: experiment with different methods. Some students still use paper pretty effectively. Others use iPads with Notability or other apps. PC users tend to like OneNote. The vast majority (way over 50%) of my class takes notes straight into the PPT. Find what works, based on the grades you're achieving, and stick with it.
     
    Last edited: 05.15.14
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  14. ph7

    ph7 2+ Year Member

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    Not surprisingly studying techniques depend on each student individually, but how long did it take you to finally find the ideal method? Being out of school for only a year is still making me pretty anxious in having to study at a much elevated level and with an exam only a couple weeks into the term. Did you all change your study techniques drastically compared to that of undergrad or just start to include small changes throughout the months? I have always studied best using paper/pen but reading through these posts it appears that more and more students are using tablet/laptops with note services, which I find interesting and appealing, yet is it a good time to be changing techniques..
     
  15. DrEnderW

    DrEnderW 2+ Year Member

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    Don't worry about the gap year - it's a non-issue. I took a year off as well and finished top of the class the first big anatomy and biochem exams. It did not effect getting into a groove in any way.

    I'm old school like you. My notes have to be on paper. It worked extremely well from the first test forward so I didn't change it. Admittedly, electronic is faster and easier but pen and paper sticks for me.

    I overcompensated in the beginning and did well from the start so I didn't change what worked. I guess it was similar to what I did 2nd half of undergrad but a step up in dedication and intensity, without a doubt. The volume of info is so large you have to adapt to some extent. My advice is if you crush the practice questions in BRS and Grey's Clinical Review for anatomy, you know you'll be good. That's usually the first hurdle. Same for BRS physio.
     
  16. OCDEMS

    OCDEMS 2+ Year Member

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    I'd second that Grey's Review is one of the highest yield review books I have ever purchased and is well worth the price. If you answered all the questions through the relevant sections before an exam AND worked through anything you got wrong, you were well prepared. Each question has a nice explanation and references the appropriate pages in the accompanying textbook (which your school may or may not use).

    http://www.amazon.com/Grays-Anatomy-Review-Marios-Loukas/dp/0443069387/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400247987&sr=8-1&keywords=Gray%27s+Anatomy+Review

    BRS Physio is also a good purchase because it's an excellent reference for the quick factoids relevant to physiology, especially once you're finished the course and need a quick refresher.
     
  17. NontradCA

    NontradCA American Hero 2+ Year Member

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    Top 1% or die trying.
     
  18. DrEnderW

    DrEnderW 2+ Year Member

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    It worked for me :sneaky:

    upload_2014-5-16_14-30-45.png
     
  19. da Vincis World

    da Vincis World 7+ Year Member

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    Does your school not give you powerpoints for each lecture? If you feel the need to take a short note use the note section of the powerpoint (or highlight in the presentation) and use the powerpoint to study. You are way better off listening to the lecture or even watching an episode of Tosh.O. Adding to your volume of study material by taking detailed notes during lecture is ludicrous.....If you're looking for extra stuff to study find a copy of First Aid.

    Group study is a similar waste of time but I guess if you are paranoid as to how everyone else is studying it may help ease some anxiety.
     
  20. IH8ColdWeath3r

    IH8ColdWeath3r 5+ Year Member

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    Good lord.....don't you do research too?
     
  21. Hakuna Matata

    Hakuna Matata 2+ Year Member

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    The method I had mentioned was just for notes. Regarding studying as a whole: I listen to the lectures at 2x speed while adding notes to the billeted lists that my group makes up. Then we meet once a week to go over everything. So you've had a lot of time for independent study and we can make sure we all understand the hard topics. Not everyone is cut out to work in a group, but it's nice just to be around people and not be so isolated all the time studying solo. It's also nice for when you think you completely understand a topic and find out you have it all wrong. (Better to know this before the exam than after!)
     
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  22. DrEnderW

    DrEnderW 2+ Year Member

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    Not a ton during the year. It was too much for a graded, ranked school, with 1+ tests a week.

    I wrote up and submitted a previous basic science project and published a literature review. I'm starting a clinical project now that will take me through the summer.
     
  23. LostinLift

    LostinLift 2+ Year Member

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    What does your transcription process involve? Do you include some slides while just summarizing others and adding relevant images?
     
  24. DrEnderW

    DrEnderW 2+ Year Member

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    Nothing crazy, just writing out pertinent info from the ppt slides in bullet point/summary format. For whatever reason, I learn better through the active process of writing out info and thinking it out. It sticks for me better. In addition, it's easier to re-read for multiple passes.

    Lots of people love the copy and paste from the slides or re-reading them a couple times. Figure out what works for you.
     
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  25. NontradCA

    NontradCA American Hero 2+ Year Member

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    So you print out the lecture? What about all the trees? Seriously though, thanks for the info.
     
  26. DrEnderW

    DrEnderW 2+ Year Member

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    Nah, wouldn't waste the paper haha.

    I just open the slides on my comp and takes notes on paper from there.
     
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  27. ChineseKid

    ChineseKid learning 5+ Year Member

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    Dr Ender, what's the best way to secure research positions?

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  28. DrEnderW

    DrEnderW 2+ Year Member

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    The first and easiest option would be to secure a spot with faculty at your school. However, I would caution against getting deeply involved in a project with a PI that doesn't routinely publish or doesn't have a solidified and publishable project laid out. For example, I know many students doing projects that have close to zero (if not zero) chance of publication during M1-M2. I wouldn't waste precious time with those and they are more likely at DO schools with less infrastructure. I was lucky to reach out and land an essentially guaranteed review pub at my school that way.

    Your goal should be to land a spot for M1 summer if you're serious about getting a publishable project. Reach out to PIs at other programs if necessary. I'm lined up for 1-3 pubs by going outside my program to neighboring MD institutions for submission before M2. They were happy to have me. Clinical papers are way easier than basic science and it's easy to do those bc there's no lab time.

    I suggest: 1) asking faculty and research coordinator at your school once you've done well through 1st semester at least, 2) reach out in the winter/early spring to neighboring programs, 3) expect to work for free. Come off excited, eager, and interested. There's some persistence and luck involved.
     
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